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Cuba to free 2 more political prisoners

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The two are not a part of a group of 52 jailed in a 2003 crackdown
  • They were convicted and sentenced for serious crimes, an independent Cuban group says
  • They will go straight into exile in Spain, the Catholic church said

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Cuba is releasing two more political prisoners who will be sent straight from prison to exile in Spain, the Roman Catholic Church said Friday.

The two men are not part of a group of 52 prisoners President Raul Castro pledged to free in an agreement brokered last July. Eleven of those dissidents, jailed during a government crackdown in March 2003, remain behind bars.

Miguel Angel Vidal Guadarrama and Hector Larroque Rego will be released soon, said a statement from the archbishop of Havana.

Both men's names appear on an online list of prisoners complied by the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation based in Havana.

Vidal was sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges of terrorism and Larroque received 22 years for burglary, illegal possession of weapons, piracy and attempted illegal exit from Cuba, according to the commission.

The Cuban government has often labeled jailed dissidents as "mercenaries" in the pay of foreign governments including the United States.

But Human Rights Watch has documented a systemic pattern of repression in Cuba and said in a report that the communist nation's "laws empower the state to criminalize virtually all forms of dissent."