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Cuba frees paraplegic dissident Ariel Sigler

Other News Materials 13 June 2010 03:56
The Cuban government on Saturday freed paraplegic jailed dissident Ariel Sigler and transferred six others to prisons near their homes.
Cuba frees paraplegic dissident Ariel Sigler

The Cuban government on Saturday freed paraplegic jailed dissident Ariel Sigler and transferred six others to prisons near their homes, DPA reported.

The release of Sigler, 47, came after negotiations between the Catholic church and President Raul Castro. Sigler was taken from a hospital in Havana to his home town of Pedro Betancourt in the province of Matanzas.

Sigler was in a group of 75 opposition activists, who after their arrests in 2003 became known as "black spring."

Among the six prisoners transferred on Saturday was Hector Maceda, whose wife Laura Pollan leads the group Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), which comprises the mothers and wives of government critics jailed in 2003.

Pollan told the German Press Agency dpa in Havana that her husband had not yet been brought to the other prison. While welcoming Sigler's release and the transfer of the six detainees, she called for the release of all the imprisoned dissidents. Only then can it be said that there is real progress in human rights, Pollan said.

The other five detainees are Juan Adolfo Fernandez, Omar Moises Ruiz, Efren Fernandez, Jesus Mustafa and Juan Carlos Herrera.

Pollan admitted that she hadn't expected to find her husband's name on the list. While the transfers would help the prisoners' families, it wouldn't make much of a difference to the men behind bars. A prisoner is a prisoner regardless of the location, she said.

According to human rights organizations, there are about 200 political prisoners in Cuba. The Cuban government calls them stooges and spies of the US government, and says they have been duly tried and condemned for breaking the law.

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