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 US condemns Cuba over blogger beatings

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PostSubject: US condemns Cuba over blogger beatings   Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:48 am

WASHINGTON: The United States said it "strongly deplores" the forcible detention and beating last week of three Cuban bloggers on their way to a peaceful march in Havana.

Award-winning blogger Yoani Sanchez, whose online reports chronicle the dark side of everyday life in communist Cuba, was detained and beaten along with two fellow bloggers by Cuban secret police on November 6.

"We have expressed to the Cuban government our deep concern with the assaults," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement.

"The US government strongly deplores the assault on bloggers Yoani Sanchez, Orlando Luis Pardo, and Claudia Cadelo.

Sanchez, who writes the blog "Generation Y," told AFP last week: "(The government agents) beat me and then they shoved me into a car head first. They did not give me any explanation at any time, but it is clear their goal was to stop us from taking part in the march."

Three agents in street clothes had snatched them off the street in the Havana district of Vedado.

Sanchez, winner of the Maria Moors Cabot 2009 award and Ortega y Gasset Prize awarded by Madrid's El Pais newspaper, said she was not seriously injured and was released half an hour after the arrest.

"Clearly, the beating hurts even more a day later; I am still really affected by all of this, but it is not going to stop me from writing my blog," she added.

Kelly said the United States called on Cuba "to ensure the full respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens".

Washington has repeatedly urged action by Cuba to move forward on free speech and greater respect for human rights before lifting the US embargo on the island.

Cuban authorities say Sanchez and all other political dissidents are "mercenaries" in the pay of the United States and other western countries.

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