Cuban dissident refused visa to collect prize

A Cuban dissident used a video address at yesterday's award of the EU's main human rights prize to call for the release of political prisoners in his homeland and for the government to end attacks on the opposition.

Guillermo Farinas was not allowed to travel to receive the Sakharov human rights prize in Strasbourg, France. The 48-year-old psychologist and journalist said the travel ban was "irrefutable testimony to the fact that unfortunately nothing has changed [in Cuba]".

An empty chair was set out for him, draped with a Cuban flag.

EU Parliament President Jerzy Buzek said they wanted to honour a stirring example of bravery in the face of oppression.

Mr Farinas won the prize after his 134-day hunger strike helped to draw attention to the plight of activists, opposition leaders and social critics in Cuban jails.