Fears are growing for two Christian lawyers charged with distributing ‘material harmful to the state’ – after the authorities in Vietnam published a damning report about them.

Observers believe human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan could face the same harsh sentence as Pastor Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly, a fellow dissident convicted of similar charges in March. Ly is beginning an eight-year sentence.

Dai and Nhan, who work for the same law firm, were arrested in Hanoi in early March. Since then, the authorities have worked hard to prejudice the courts against them. They are due to be tried on 11 May.

Compass Direct reports that an official newspaper, mouthpiece of the Ministry of Public Security, recently ran a four-page report about the lawyers. Both are portrayed as criminals: Dai, for example, is accused of stealing money from his church – a claim even his church is unaware of. Dai also stands accused of distributing ‘alleged infractions of religious liberty’ to Vietnam’s ‘enemies abroad’.

Dai, 38, has gained some notoriety among the authorities for his human rights work. He defended Rev Nguyen Hong Quang and the so-called Mennonite Six in Ho Chi Minh City in 2004 and 2005. Nhan, 27, is also a ‘vocal champion of human rights’, says BosNewsLife.

Release International

from persecution.com.au

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