Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh (USCIRF)

Vietnam has released a Lutheran pastor and deported him to the United States, reports UCA News.

Nguyen Cong Chinh, was serving an 11-year prison sentence for “undermining national solidarity” through religious activities with ethnic groups in the country’s Central Highlands. He was also a director of the Vietnam-U.S. Lutheran Alliance Church.

A statement released last week (29 July) by the US-based Boat People SOS (BPSOS), said that Chinh arrived in Los Angeles on 28 July with his wife and five children following a deal that saw him released in return for leaving the country.

“We welcome the early release of Pastor Chinh but deplore the fact that he and his loved ones must go into exile,” said BPSOS President Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang.

Chinh, who had been imprisoned since 2011, was recently further punished for speaking to a visiting US diplomatic delegation about the abuses he had suffered. Last year Chinh’s wife, Tran Thi Hong, described her interrogation and beatings for publicising Chinh’s case with international human rights organisations, and the arrest of one of their children, as an ‘intolerable’ level of harassment towards her family.