Dissidents in Cuba
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Four dissidents freed by Havana

Four dissidents freed by Havana

Cuba has released four political prisoners arrested during a crackdown
on the opposition in 2003.

Reporters Jose Ramon and Alejandro Gonzalez, dissident Omar Pernet and
trade unionist Pedro Alvarez were flown to Madrid by a Spanish air force
jet.

The four were among 75 prominent figures convicted of being mercenaries
in the pay of the US five years ago.

Cuba had been expected to release seven political prisoners on health
grounds after negotiations with Spain.

The other three are expected to be flown to the US, says the BBC's
Michael Voss in Havana.

Long sentences

The four released dissidents were flown to Spain with their families,
arriving at a military airport near Madrid on Sunday after an overnight
flight from Havana.

Their release is being seen by Western diplomatic sources in Cuba as a
positive move by acting President Raul Castro, whose brother Fidel
Castro underwent emergency surgery 18 months ago.

"The decision was made unilaterally by the Cuban authorities and we are
very satisfied," said Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

On Friday, he had announced Cuba would free seven of the 59 dissidents
still imprisoned after the 2003 crackdown.

Those convicted were given prison sentences of up to 28 years, but 16
have already been released on health grounds.

There has been no official comment on the release by the Cuban authorities.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/7249871.stm

Published: 2008/02/17 20:27:37 GMT

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