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Cuba To Free Political Prisoners Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez and Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, Says Church

  • Members of Cuba's dissident group Ladies in White hold up photographs of the late political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo during their weekly march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011. Tamayo died on Feb. 23 following a lengthy hunger strike. Cuba freed Guido Sigler , a prominent political prisoner, on Friday and the Roman Catholic Church said Angel Moya, another political prisoner, would be released soon and allowed to stay in the country. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

    Members of Cuba's dissident group Ladies in White hold up photographs of the late political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo during their weekly march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011. Tamayo died on Feb. 23 following a lengthy hunger strike. Cuba freed Guido Sigler , a prominent political prisoner, on Friday and the Roman Catholic Church said Angel Moya, another political prisoner, would be released soon and allowed to stay in the country. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)  (AP2011)

  • Members of Cuba's dissident group Ladies in White hold up photographs of the late political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo during their weekly march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011. Tamayo died on Feb. 23 following a lengthy hunger strike. Cuba freed Guido Sigler , a prominent political prisoner, on Friday and the Roman Catholic Church said Angel Moya, another political prisoner, would be released soon and allowed to stay in the country. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

    Members of Cuba's dissident group Ladies in White hold up photographs of the late political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo during their weekly march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011. Tamayo died on Feb. 23 following a lengthy hunger strike. Cuba freed Guido Sigler , a prominent political prisoner, on Friday and the Roman Catholic Church said Angel Moya, another political prisoner, would be released soon and allowed to stay in the country. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)  (AP2011)

Two prominent Cuban dissidents jailed since a 2003 crackdown on opposition leaders will be released, the Roman Catholic Church announced Friday.

The release of Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez and Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, who had refused for months to accept exile into Spain, is another major breakthrough in months of church-led negotiations with the government. The government pledged in July to free 52 nonviolent activists, social commentators and opposition leaders jailed since the dissident crackdown.

The imminent releases were announced Friday by church spokesman Orlando Márquez, who made no mention of the men accepting exile.

Once Maseda and Fleitas are free, just eight prisoners of conscience from 2003 will remain behind bars.

The announcement came just hours after the church announced that Cuba released four other prisoners. The four, and their families, will be leaving the island for exile in Spain.

The men have been identified as Felipe Ramon Pino, Osmel Aguilera, Juan Junior Padrón, and Rafaél Jorrin.

They are not among the group of political prisoners. Little is known about Pino. Aguilera was serving a 30-year sentence for sabotage, and Jorrin and Padrón were in jail for hijacking and other charges.

Based on reporting from The Associated Press.