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Cuban dissident freed but cannot leave country

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Havana (AFP)

An award-winning Cuban dissident who was detained this week announced Thursday that he has been released without charge but barred from a planned trip to Europe for a meeting on human rights.

Guillermo Farinas, a 58-year-old psychologist, is a leading voice in the opposition to Cuba's communist government and won the European Parliament's Sakharov human rights prize in 2010.

Farinas was arrested Tuesday in the central city of Santa Clara, where he lives, as he planned to go to the Spanish Embassy in Havana to pick up travel documents.

He had been due to take part in a meeting of the human rights commission of the European Parliament.

"The main reason for my arrest was to keep me from traveling to Europe," Farinas told AFP.

He said the authorities freed him Thursday night but barred him from leaving Santa Clara under threat of another arrest.

Farinas added that Cuban authorities fear he uses trips to Europe to sabotage relations with the European Union.

Farinas waged a 54-day hunger strike in 2016 because, he said, jailed dissidents in Cuba are tortured, beaten and threatened with death.

Over the years, Farinas has gone on several such strikes to draw attention to what he says are oppressive policies carried out by the Havana regime. These included a 2010 fast that left him near death.

The Cuban government denies it is holding any political prisoners.

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