Cuba frees journalist after 19 months in custody

Several dissidents released in apparent gesture to EU

The World

December 03, 2004|By Vanessa Bauza | Vanessa Bauza,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

HAVANA - The Cuban government freed a 59-year-old independent journalist yesterday after he spent nine months at a Havana prison hospital receiving psychiatric treatment.

Edel Garcia is the sixth dissident to be released this week - of 75 jailed 19 months ago - in what many see as a gesture from Havana to repair damaged relations with the European Union. Seven others have been released since the 2003 crackdown.

Garcia, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison, said he would not return to his writing for fear his parole could be revoked. Instead, he hoped the Cuban government would issue him an exit permit to seek political asylum in the United States.

Garcia called the release of the 13 dissidents a positive sign and especially thanked the European Union for its support.

"Everyone who is in prison has the hope of getting out. We had a lot of trust in the negotiations of the European Union," he said.

Garcia, a former linguist, said he suffered severe claustrophobic episodes and depression during his first 10 months in solitary confinement before being transferred to a prison hospital. He also has glaucoma and a cyst in his kidney. He said he received adequate medical care in prison.

About 18 other political prisoners from several provinces across Cuba have been transferred to Havana for medical checkups this week, and there was widespread speculation that others could be released in the days to come.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.