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Freed Cuban dissidents arrive in Spain

Freed Cuban dissidents arrive in Spain
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Six political prisoners freed by Cuba have arrived in Madrid. The six men and their families landed at the Spanish capital’s Barajas airport. Friends, relatives and supporters gathered to greet the exiles.

They were imprisoned during a clampdown on dissidents by the Cuban authorities in 2003.

At least 20 of them have expressed a desire to live in Spain but three dissidents on the list for release want to remain in Cuba to campaign against the communist regime.

The group is the first batch of 52 prisoners of conscience to be released in a deal brokered by the Catholic Church and the Spanish government.

Hours before the dissidents left Cuba, former President Fidel Castro made a rare appearance on Cuban state television.

The 83-year-old, who handed power to his brother Raul in 2006, spoke at length on international affairs but did not mention the dissidents or their imminent departure for Spain.

Cuba has always denied holding political prisoners, preferring to call them criminals.

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