Release of Political Prisoners

Office of the Spokesperson
U.S. Department of State

The United States reiterates its deep concern for political prisoners in Cuba.  The cases of Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola and Dr. Eduardo Cardet, both of whom a prominent human rights organization has declared “prisoners of conscience,” are just two examples of how the Cuban government continues to silence the peaceful opposition of its own citizens.

Human rights activist Dr. Cardet is serving a three-year sentence for allegedly criticizing former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.  In May, Cuban authorities told his family they would not be allowed to visit him in jail for six months as punishment for his family’s efforts to raise awareness of his case internationally.

Also last month, a court in Cuba sentenced scientist and environmental activist Dr. Ruiz Urquiola to a year in prison for allegedly disrespecting government authority.  Cuban government officials have harassed Dr. Ruiz Urquiola for years for speaking out on environmental issues.  We are deeply troubled by reports that he is currently on a hunger strike and in a critical medical condition.

We call on the Government of Cuba to release all political prisoners immediately and to stop its arbitrary detention of Cuban activists and independent thinkers who criticize their government through peaceful means.  We also call on the Cuban government to cease reprisals against the family members of these activists.