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Cuban dissident freed 'for humanitarian reasons'

By Gustavo Valdes, CNN
  • Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique is resting in his home in Havana, Cuba
  • Havana's archbishop says Ramos is "staying in Cuba for humanitarian reasons"
  • Ramos is the oldest of 75 people arrested in March 2003
  • Amnesty International describes the group as "prisoners of conscience"

(CNN) -- A Cuban dissident whose release from prison had been delayed because of his refusal to leave the country has been freed, his wife told CNN.

Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique was resting early Sunday in his home in Havana, Cuba, said his wife, Lidia Lima.

A Roman Catholic Church representative told her Ramos would be released from prison Saturday morning, Lima said, but it was not until 9 p.m. local time that he made it home.

Ramos, 68, is the oldest of 75 people arrested and imprisoned in Cuba in March 2003 -- a group described as "prisoners of conscience" by Amnesty International.

Their release was negotiated by the church with the condition that the men would leave for Spain. Of the group, 55 men have been released so far.

Ramos had refused to take the deal, but Archbishop of Havana Monsignor Juan de Dios Hernandez Ruiz said in a statement Saturday that Ramos was being freed on parole and "staying in Cuba for humanitarian reasons."

Another man, Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, will be freed and transported to Spain, the archbishop said.

The group was jailed in a crackdown against the dissident movement in March 2003, according to Amnesty International.

"They were sentenced to between six and 28 years in prison after speedy and unfair trials for engaging in activities the authorities perceived as subversive and damaging to Cuba," the organization said.

From CNN's Gustavo Valdes