World

Cuba releasing 3,522 prisoners ahead of pope's visit

  • A sculpture of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara is lit up on a government building in Revolution Square beside an altar under construction ahead of Pope Francis' Mass in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. The Mass is scheduled for Sept. 20. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

    A sculpture of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara is lit up on a government building in Revolution Square beside an altar under construction ahead of Pope Francis' Mass in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. The Mass is scheduled for Sept. 20. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)  (The Associated Press)

  • July 11, 2015 - FILE photo of Pope Francis in his popemobile in Caacupe, Paraguay. Cuba's highest authority says it's releasing 3,522 prisoners ahead of the pope's visit to the island next week.

    July 11, 2015 - FILE photo of Pope Francis in his popemobile in Caacupe, Paraguay. Cuba's highest authority says it's releasing 3,522 prisoners ahead of the pope's visit to the island next week.

Cuba's highest authority says it is releasing 3,522 prisoners ahead of next week's visit to the island by Pope Francis, the third time Cuba has granted inmates freedom before a papal visit.

The Council of State announced in state media Friday morning that the prisoners to be freed include a mix of women, people younger than 20, inmates suffering from illnesses and people whose terms were coming to an end next year.

The government won't release people convicted of serious crimes like murder, child sexual abuse or violations of state security. The final category is often applied to people considered political prisoners by Cuban and international human rights groups.

The government says the group includes some foreigners whose home countries have agreed to repatriate them.