Vietnam frees, exiles jailed Christian human rights lawyer

Nguyen Van Dai put on aircraft and sent with wife, colleague to Germany
Vietnam frees, exiles jailed Christian human rights lawyer

Vietnamese rights lawyer, Nguyen Van Dai (center), stands in a courtroom during his trial in Hanoi, on April 5. (Photo by Vietnam News Agency/AFP) reporter, Hanoi
June 8, 2018
A Christian human rights lawyer sentenced to 15 years in prison in April has been released from jail and put on a flight to Germany, a pro-democracy group said.

Prominent rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, and fellow jailed Brotherhood for Democracy group member Le Thu Ha were released from prison in Hanoi late on June 7, the group said.

Both, along with Nguyen's wife Vu Minh Khanh were taken to the airport and put on a flight bound for Frankfurt, Germany.

Their reported release came a day after 90 NGO's wrote to the European Union calling on the bloc to reject a touted free trade agreement with Vietnam until it releases all political prisoners and upholds human rights.

Hanoi says there are no political prisoners in Vietnam.

Nguyen, 48, was arrested on Dec. 16, 2015 and charged with attempting to overthrow the communist government and sentenced to 15 years in prison and another five years of probation.

Le, his former assistant, was arrested at the same time and given a 9-year jail term followed by another three years under house arrest.

Both Nguyen and Le, were said to be in poor health after having been detained in prison for 30 months.

A Catholic priest, who wished to remain anonymous, said the government likely exiled the pair "because it could not break their will."

"They bravely refused to accept their unfair sentences and to give up their calls for democracy and rights despite having suffered extreme persecution from the government," he said.

The priest said Nguyen helped form the Brotherhood for Democracy in 2013 to spread human rights and democratic values in Vietnam.

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