Cuban activists say the government has released a group of at least 27 dissidents who were detained Thursday for trying to take part in a protest.

The group of detainees included prominent dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, who was recently released from prison after serving a 17-year sentence.

Activists say Cuban authorities were trying to prevent the dissidents from joining a small group of activists who had delivered a letter to the Justice Ministry in Havana, demanding better treatment for political prisoners.

Martha Beatriz Roque, who has been jailed twice for her opposition to the communist government, led the protest.

She says as the group waited outside the Justice building for a response to their letter, Cuban police arrived, forced the protesters onto a bus and drove them home.

Government opponents say Cuba is holding more than 200 political prisoners, a number that has decreased since Raul Castro took over from his ailing brother, President Fidel Castro.

The Cuban government denies it holds any political prisoners, and claims those who oppose the government are paid by the United States.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.