Cuba to free 52 political prisoners

The church-state deal is set to yield biggest prisoner release since 2008.

Havana: The Cuban government will release 52 political prisoners over the next few months, the Catholic church said on Wednesday after a meeting between Archbishop Jaime Ortega and President Raul Castro.

These prisoners are the last of the 75 dissidents jailed after the "Black Spring" crackdown in March 2003, the church said in a statement.

Cuban authorities told the Catholic hierarchy that the detainees would be free to leave the country if they wish.

The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said in a report on Monday that the government is holding 167 political prisoners.

The number of people held for political reasons in the country has declined since Raul Castro formally succeeded ailing older brother Fidel in February 2008.


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