Obama calls for freeing Cuba political prisoners

AP News
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Posted: Feb 23, 2011 6:52 PM
Obama calls for freeing Cuba political prisoners

President Barack Obama is marking the one-year anniversary of the death of a Cuban dissident by calling on the island nation to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally.

Obama's statement Wednesday came a year after Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after a lengthy hunger strike behind bars.

The Cuban government has been gradually releasing political prisoners, including some of those arrested in a 2003 crackdown. Most are being released at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church and quickly sent into exile.

Obama called Tamayo's death "selfless and tragic" and said it brought the world's attention to the mistreatment of prisoners unjustly held by Cuban authorities for standing up for the rights of the Cuban people. Tamayo's mother was detained in Cuba over the weekend, an action Obama criticized.