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    Cuba Releases Some of the 53 ‘Political Prisoners’ on US List

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    The US State Department has confirmed that Cuba had released some of the 53 people who the US considers political prisoners.

    MOSCOW, January 7 (Sputnik) – Cuba has released some of the 53 people who the US considers to be political prisoners, who are currently incarcerated in the country, according to an AFP report.

    “They have already released some of the prisoners," the agency quotes State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki as telling reporters. “Obviously we would like to see this completed in the near future."

    Psaki however has so far refused to identify the prisoners or say how many people have been freed.

    Shamans holding posters of U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro, perform a ritual of predictions for the new year at Agua Dulce beach in Lima December 29, 2014
    © REUTERS / Enrique Castro-Mendivil
    One reason the prisoners' identities were not being disclosed was because "we don't want to put an even bigger target on their back as political dissidents," Reuters quotes White House spokesman Josh Earnest as telling the reporters.

    The move comes as part of last month’s historic US-Cuban rapprochement deal. US President Barack Obama has already ordered his administration to initiate steps to normalize relations between the countries.

    He also wants to eventually persuade Congress to lift the 54-year-old US trade embargo on Havana, which he has described as “self-defeating.”

    As part of the deal, Washington has presented a “carefully put together” list of 53 political prisoners which the United States would like to see freed by Havana, Psaki said.

    “We've been very careful about discussing these prisoners in this process, because we’re not looking to put a bigger target on Cuban political dissidents," AFP quotes her as saying. “We're looking to get them released, and this is the process that we think will be most effective."

    Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American Republican who is a leading congressional opponent of Obama's policy shift, has urged Obama to cancel upcoming talks with Havana — at least until all the prisoners are released, according to Reuters.

    Psaki stressed, however, that the talks were not contingent on the release of all the prisoners, says AFP.

    While the prisoner release was important, “having a dialogue, opening up access to be able to communicate, to organize, those are all steps we feel are important," the agency quotes her as saying.

    An exact date for the Havana talks has not been set yet.


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