Cuba's Yoani Sanchez says husband, another dissident detained

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 30, 2014 1:42 PM

HAVANA (Reuters) - Prominent Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez said police detained her husband and another government opponent on Tuesday in what would be the highest profile detentions since Cuba and the United States agreed to end five decades of hostility.

A Cuban government official could not immediately confirm the report.

"They are taking away my husband (Reinaldo Escobar) and (Eliecer Avila) in a police patrol car, handcuffed," Sanchez said on Twitter.

Escobar is a senior editor of the dissident news and opinion website 14ymedio.com and Avila is the leader of the opposition group Somos Mas (We Are More).

Sanchez could not be immediately reached for further details. Another dissident leader, Elizardo Sanchez, who is unrelated, said Yoani Sanchez was being detained in her home by police.

"They are not letting her leave her home," he said.

The detentions came hours before Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera planned an open microphone demonstration at Havana's Revolution Square on Tuesday, testing the government's tolerance for dissent.

Cuban officials denied Bruguera a permit but she pledged to go forward with the event.

Cuban police often detain political opponents for a few hours or days and then release them.

Cuba and the United States announced on Dec. 17 they would normalize diplomatic relations and end a long history of conflict.

The deal, reached after 18 months of secret talks, also included a prisoner swap in which the United States freed three Cuban spies and Cuba agreed to release U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, a Cuban who spied for Washington, and 53 people who the United States considers political prisoners.

So far, none of those 53 have been identified and dissident groups say none of their activists have been released since the Dec. 17 announcement.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Kieran Murray and Alan Crosby)