HAVANA (Reuters) - Two political prisoners who had refused to leave prison were freed against their wishes on Saturday as Cuba released more jailed government opponents.
Hector Maseda and Angel Moya were among the last of 52 prisoners President Raul Castro agreed to release in a deal brokered in July by the Roman Catholic Church.
Maseda, whose wife, Laura Pollan, heads the “Ladies in White,” Cuba’s leading dissident group, was told Friday he could go free after almost eight years behind bars. But he said he would not leave until the government dropped its insistence on keeping him on parole.
He said he was taken from prison Saturday against his will and was still on parole, which imposes conditions on his freedom.
“Today, tomorrow and all the time, I will say I am being freed against my will and I am being forced by (the government). I do not agree with (parole),” he told Reuters from his home in Central Havana. Maseda, 68, was head of an outlawed political party.
Moya, whose wife, Berta Soler, is also a leader of the Ladies in White, had refused to leave jail until the rest of the 52 were freed, but he said he was also forced out on Saturday.
When he arrived at his home near Havana, about 100 jeering government supporters greeted him, shouting, “Viva Fidel, Viva la revolucion.”
“These people that shout at us today will applaud us tomorrow,” he said.
With the release of Maseda and Moya, who is 46, just seven of the 52 prisoners remain behind bars.
All were jailed in a 2003 government crackdown that drew international condemnation.
Castro wants to free them and all other political prisoners to end what has been one of the communist-led island’s thorniest international problems.
The release process has been an extended one because Cuba wanted the freed prisoners to go to Spain, which agreed to take them.
But the last ones in jail have refused to leave Cuba and the government is finally letting them go.
Cuba views dissidents as mercenaries who work for its archenemy, the United States.
Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Jeff Franks and Peter Cooney