Cuba releases dissidents and allows them to travel to Spain

Other News Materials 17 February 2008 23:20 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Four political prisoners released in Cuba on Sunday flew to Spain aboard a military aircraft.

The four opponents of Fidel Castro's regime were accompanied by 13 family members, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said. Their release was a humanitarian gesture by the government in Havana, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said.

Cuba was to release three more political prisoners, sources said. No details about the group to be released were disclosed. Spanish reports had said that seven dissidents were seriously ill.

The four political prisoners, who had travelled to Spain, belong to the so-called Group of 75. They were arrested during a crackdown in spring 2003, sources in Madrid said.

They were named as journalists Alejandro Gonzalez Raga, 48, Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo, 50, and union leader Pedro Pablo Alvarez, 60, as well as Omar Pernet Hernandez, 62, who belonged to a prisoner aid organization. The four had been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 25 years.

According to Spanish national radio, Madrid had lobbied for their release which was discussed between Cuban and Spanish diplomats during a meeting in Madrid last weekend.

Human rights groups have the names of an estimated 300 political prisoners from Cuba.