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Book Claims Cuban Dissident is Government Informant - 2003-08-19

A new Cuban government-sponsored book claims high-profile dissident Elizardo Sanchez has been a government informant since 1997.

The book's two authors, Arleen Rodriguez and Lazaro Barredo, have close ties to the Cuban government and said in a press conference Monday in Havana that Mr. Sanchez started spying without coercion.

They said the book titled El Camajan (The Chameleon) shows photos of Mr. Sanchez being honored by the Interior Minstry for spying.

Mr. Sanchez, a longtime critic of Fidel Castro's government, admits being in contact with state security agents in recent years, but denies collaborating with them. He said he was only trying to establish a dialogue for political reform.

Other Cuban dissidents, including democracy activist Oswaldo Paya, expressed support for Mr. Sanchez, saying the allegations that he was a government informant don't deserve comment.

The book's publication comes four months after Cuba jailed 75 pro-democracy activists on treason and subversion charges. The crackdown sparked international criticism.