HAVANA, Cuba – HAVANA, Cuba (AP) — Cuba's Roman Catholic Church on Friday revealed the names of six more political prisoners to be released into exile in Spain under a sweeping agreement with President Raul Castro's government.
The men are among 75 dissidents who were arrested in a March 2003 crackdown on dissidents and sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges that included treason.
In a landmark deal, Cuba agreed July 7 to release the remaining 52 prisoners still jailed from the crackdown, which human rights activists call the "Black Spring."
Word of the latest releases bring to 26 the number freed so far — and all have agreed to leave Cuba for Spain, with one then settling in Chile.
Church official Orlando Marquez said the next six slated for release are Marcelo Manuel Cano Rodriguez, Regis Iglesias Ramirez, Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Efren Fernandez Fernandez, Fabio Prieto Llorente and Juan Adolfo Feranndez Sainz.
Both the Cuban government and the church say releasing all 52 will take months. Still, Friday's announcement was the first word of new releases in nearly two weeks, after an initial wave of 20 prisoners were freed fairly quickly.
Some political prisoners in Cuba have been offered freedom but have declined, saying they want to stay in their homeland. It is not clear if those released subsequently will be exiled or if some will be allowed to stay in the country.