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Church leaders secure Cuban political prisoner's release

Catholic World News - June 15, 2010

A prominent Cuban political prisoner has been released after talks between government officials and Church leaders.

Ariel Sigler Amaya, who had been sentenced to a 20-year prison term after his 2003 arrest in a crackdown on political dissidents, was set free on June 14. A few days earlier, government officials had promised to release Sigler during talks with Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana.

The prisoner’s release came on the eve of a visit to Cuba by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States—in effect the foreign minister of the Holy See. The US State department hailed the prisoner’s release, and paid tribute to “those working for the improved treatment of released political prisoners, including the Catholic Church.”

Sigler’s release was explained as a humanitarian move. He is seriously ill: paralyzed from the waist down, and weighing barely over 100 pounds. Church officials in Cuba continue to press for the release of other political prisoners.

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