Cuba frees seven political prisoners

February 16th, 2008 - 8:03 pm ICT by admin  

Havana, Feb 16 (IANS) Cuba has announced the release of seven political prisoners, four of whom are among a group of 75 arrested during a government crackdown in 2003, officials at the Spanish embassy in Havana have said. According to the officials, four of the freed dissidents, identified as Alejandro Gonzalez Raga, Omar Pernet, Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo and Pedro Pablo Alvarez, will be given asylum along with their family members in Spain, EFE news agency reported Saturday.

The officials, however, didn’t provide the names of the other three prisoners set for release.

The announcement of the releases comes after Spain and Cuba held their second round of talks on human rights in Madrid last week.

The dialogue between the two countries was launched last April during a visit to Havana by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos. That visit was the first by a European Union foreign minister since the bloc imposed sanctions on the island in 2003 after the crackdown.

Moratinos described the release announcement as “good news” for both the countries. “The release shows that progress could be made through dialogue and shared responsibility,” he told reporters Friday in the Spanish city of Cordoba.

The Cuban police had rounded up and arrested all the members of “Group of 75″ during a peaceful demonstration against the communist government of Fidel Castro in 2003.

With the latest releases, 55 dissidents of the group will still remain behind bars. Earlier, the authorities had freed 16 dissidents on medical grounds.

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