Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly suffered a stroke in prison and is semi-paralyzed. The news was reported by the family of the 63-year-old Vietnamese priest, at the forefront in the fight for religious freedom in the country who was sentenced in 2006 to eight years in prison. The incident occurred on 15 November, he was admitted Military Hospital 198 in Hanoi for medical treatment.
Hieu, a relative of the priest, reports that the stroke has paralyzed "the right half of his body," but he is conscious and is undergoing a slow recovery. Hoang, a nephew of Ly, was able to visit him and stressed that "he is able to speak." "He can lift his leg 20 cm - said his nephew to Radio Free Asia - and the same for his arm. This indicates that there are signs of improvement”.
The family confirms that Fr. Van Ly was "treated well" and is being followed by the chief of cardiology in person, under the "supervision of five policemen”. The priest is in a good mood and wanted to thank those who are involved in his care.
Father Van Ly was sentenced March 30, 2007 to eight years in prison and five of house arrest on charges of founding a movement for democracy, called "Bloc 8406", in April 2006. Today this movement has 2 thousand members, and it supports illegal groups such as the Progressive Party of Vietnam.
Previously he had spent 14 years in prison - between 1977 and 2004 - for his battles in defence of religious freedom and human rights in the communist country. The image (pictured) of the handcuffed priest in the courts, being silenced by a policeman while protesting against the persecutions of the communist regime made him famous throughout the world.
Last July a group of 37 U.S. senators - Democrats and Republicans - sent a personal letter to Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet, to demand the unconditional release of Vietnamese priest.