Priest’s Relatives on Trial in Vietnam for Spying

PARIS, NOV. 25, 2002 ( Two nephews and a niece of a priest, regarded as a champion of religious liberty in Vietnam, are facing trial on charges of espionage.

According to Eglises d’Asie, the foreign missions agency of Paris, the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City could hand down severe sentences, including the death penalty, against the three relatives of Father Thaddeus Nguyên Van Ly.

Among the accused is Nguyên Thi Hoa, widow and mother of four, arrested on June 19, 2001.

The other two accused are her younger brothers, Nguyên Vu Viet and Nguyên Truc Cuong, born in 1975 and 1967, respectively, and arrested on June 13 and 18, 2001.

The three are accused of maintaining relations with Vietnamese groups in the United States, in particular, with one of the directors of Quê Huong radio of San Jose, California, as well as with Ngo Thi Hien, president of the Commission for Religious Liberty in Vietnam, exiled in the United States.

Father Ly, promoter of a campaign in favor of religious liberty, was arrested in May 2001 and sentenced last October to 15 years in prison.