.- A high-profile Catholic priest will go on trial March 30th on charges of disseminating materials aimed at undermining Vietnam's Communist government, reported The Associated Press.
Fr. Nguyen Van Ly and four of his associates are accused of producing so-called anti-government documents and communicating with anti-communist groups overseas. The pro-democracy priest is also accused of planning to form a new political opposition party named Lac Hong. The offense carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
The actions against Fr. Ly come as Vietnam and the Vatican discuss the possibility of establishing diplomatic ties. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with the Pope in January, in the first visit ever to the Vatican by a Vietnamese head of government.
The Vatican's undersecretary of state reportedly raised Fr. Ly's case with the Vietnamese government.
Fr. Ly has spent more than a decade in prison for his political activism and is one of the best-known members of Vietnam's small dissident community. He was last imprisoned in 2001, when he was sentenced to 15 years, but was released two years ago in an amnesty.