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Released Cuban Dissident Describes Prison Ordeal

An international media rights group says a dissident journalist recently released by Cuban authorities says he would have preferred death to continued imprisonment.

A statement from Reporters Without Borders Friday quoted Mario Enrique Mayo Hernandez as calling his imprisonment "psychologically traumatizing."

Mayo said, in his own words, that he "wanted to leave this world rather than live in such conditions" as a prisoner in jails and a military hospital. He described being on constant alert against abuse by guards, fights among prisoners, theft and humiliation.

Mayo says he is still being treated for depression.

The journalist was one of the 75 dissidents rounded up by Cuban authorities in March 2003.

The 41-year-old Mayo had been serving a 20-year prison sentence, but was released earlier this month on medical grounds. He and other pro-democracy activists were arrested in a crackdown on the opposition.

They were later sentenced to terms ranging from six to 28 years in prison after being convicted on charges of working with and receiving money from the U.S. government to undermine Cuban President Fidel Castro. The activists and U.S. officials denied the charge.