Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cuban blogger says husband freed, other activists still detained

Cuban blogger says husband freed, other activists still detained
HAVANA Wed Dec 31, 2014 10:08am EST

(Reuters) - A prominent opposition blogger in Cuba said her husband was
freed by the authorities overnight but several dissidents were still in
custody on Wednesday, a day after they were arrested in a move that drew
condemnation from the United States.

The detentions in the Cuban capital were the most significant crackdown
on the opposition on the communist-led island since Havana and
Washington agreed on Dec. 17 to restore diplomatic ties and end more
than 50 years of hostility.

Yoani Sanchez, who said her husband Reinaldo Escobar had been taken away
in handcuffs along with another activist, said Escobar returned home
overnight. She thanked well-wishers for their support but said several
dissidents were still held.

"It's Dec. 31 and there are families which cannot celebrate together,"
Sanchez wrote on Twitter. "We continue to protest on behalf of those who
are still in detention."

About 12 activists were taken away by police officers, while others were
instructed not to leave their homes, said Elizardo Sanchez, the leader
of a dissident human rights commission that monitors such detentions.

Tuesday's action by the authorities came ahead of a planned
open-microphone event in the capital's Revolution Square, at which
activists were going to speak about their vision for Cuba.

The organizer of the event, which flopped after the detentions when only
a handful of people showed up, was performance artist Tania Bruguera.
She had vowed to go ahead with the event even after Cuban officials
denied her a permit.

On Tuesday, Bruguera also went missing, and Sanchez said her husband saw
her at the police station where he was held. That could not immediately
be confirmed by Reuters.

Cuba's government had denounced the plans for the open-microphone event
as "political provocation."

Responding to the first major test of U.S. President Barack Obama's
policy shift toward Havana, the U.S. State Department said in a
statement that it was deeply concerned by the detentions.

"We strongly condemn the Cuban government's continued harassment and
repeated use of arbitrary detention, at times with violence, to silence
critics, disrupt peaceful assembly and freedom expression, and
intimidate citizens," it said.

Obama has said Cubans should not face harassment or arrest for
expressing their views, and that Washington would continue to monitor
human rights on the island.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

Source: Cuban blogger says husband freed, other activists still detained
| Reuters -

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