Sick political prisoner freed in Cuba

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Sick political prisoner freed in Cuba

Sick political prisoner freed in Cuba
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The Cuban government has freed a political prisoner who became ill in jail, while six others have been moved to prisons nearer to home.

Ariel Sigler, who is 47 was brought home by ambulance to his home on the northwest coast.

He became paraplegic in jail after being arrested in 2003 in a government crackdown on dissidents.

There are thought to be nearly 200 political prisoners in Cuba, about 30 with serious health problems. One died earlier this year.

The freed man said he had mixed freelings. “I’m not going to surrender the fight for freedom and democracy in Cuba,” he said. “Our brothers that remain in prison should be freed to be with their families and friends”.

Sigler’s release follows the death earlier this year of Orlando Zapata, who was reported to have been on hunger strike in custody.

Some commentators believe the Cuban government, aware of international attention, didn’t want another political prisoner to die in jail.

Sigler’s friends and family showed photos of the man before he was sent to prison, looking far healthier.

His release is thought to be part of a series of concessions agreed after talks between government officials and the Catholic church ahead of a visit to Havana by the Vatican’s foreign minister.

The wife of one of the prisoners being transferred – who leads the pressure group ‘Ladies in White” – said the ultimate goal, the release of their relatives, had not been achieved.