Cuban dissident Armando Betancourt Reina released
Posted: 22 August 2007 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Associated Press

An independent Cuban journalist arrested on charges of public disorder while covering a family’s eviction from their home was released suddenly after 15 months behind bars, a New York-based reporters’ advocacy group said Tuesday.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said Armando Betancourt Reina was released from prison Monday in the central provincial capital of Camaguey. He is the third dissident to be released in less than two weeks as the list of Cuban prisoners of conscience steadily grows shorter.

«We are relieved that Armando Betancourt Reina has been freed,» CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement. «However, we reiterate our calls for Cuban authorities to immediately release the other 24 journalists unjustly imprisoned today in Cuba for expressing their views.

Betancourt, a little-known journalist who contributed dispatches to the Miami-based Web site Nueva Prensa Cuba, was detained on May 23, 2006, while covering the eviction in Camaguey. Police told Betancourt’s family that he had joined a protest against the eviction, but he denies that.

Internationally known rights activist Francisco Chaviano, who is among Cuba’s most veteran dissidents, was released on Aug. 11 after 13 years in prison. Days later, Lazaro Gonzalez Adan, who belonged to an independent labor movement, was freed after spending three years behind bars.

The number of Cuban political prisoners dropped by more than 20 percent in the year since Raul Castro took power from his ailing elder brother Fidel in July 2006, according to the Havana-based Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, an independent rights group that tracks prisoners of conscience.

According to the commission, 246 political prisoners were being held as of June 30, compared with 283 at the beginning of 2007 and 316 a year ago. But government opponents say they continue to be harassed by authorities.

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Posted: 22 August 2007 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I hope this signals a direction and are not just a few individual releases. Would really give Raoul and Co some points, not just for the actions themselves but to indicate a potential long overdue change.

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