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US Calls for Release of Cuban Political Prisoners

The United States has again called on Cuba to release all political prisoners, on the one-year anniversary of the death of a prominent dissident.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo died last year after an 11-week hunger strike, calling for the release of his fellow political prisoners in Cuba.

On Wednesday, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley described Tamayo as a "courageous humanitarian" who died defending freedom of expression. Crowley said Tamayo's death highlights the injustice of Cuba's detention of political prisoners. He said the U.S. joins the international and Cuban communities in urging their immediate release.

Crowley also deplored what he described as the Cuban government's "continuing intimidation and harassment" of rights activists and their family members, including Zapata's mother.

Human rights groups that follow Cuban affairs estimate the Caribbean nation is holding at least 100 people on political charges. Cuba says it has no political prisoners, only "mercenaries," who Havana claims are working with the United States to undermine Cuban communism.