Cuban prisoners released against their will

Two well-known Cuban dissidents were released from prison yesterday, despite the fact both men said they wanted to remain in jail until other opposition leaders were freed and other demands were met.

The release of Hector Maseda and Angel Moya means that just seven of the original 75 opposition figures arrested in a 2003 crackdown remain in Cuban jails – but neither was happy about it.

The decision to release Mr Moya was announced more than a week ago, but he had refused to leave jail - saying he wanted ailing dissidents to go free first.

On Friday, the Roman Catholic Church announced that the government wanted to release Mr Maseda, but he too turned them down, saying he wanted authorities to exonerate or pardon him, not simply grant him parole. In the end, jail officials simply tossed the men out, saying they could no longer stay behind bars, even if they wanted to.

"I have left prison against my will," Mr Maseda told journalists after arriving at his home in the capital, Havana. "I never would have accepted leaving jail on parole."

Mr Moya arrived at his home a few hours later, also saying he was thrown out of jail against his will. A small group of pro-government demonstrators screamed at him in the street, shouting slogans like "Fidel! Fidel! Down with the worms!"

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