calls for release of all Cuba's political
WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (AFP) - President George
W. Bush Wednesday called for the release
of Jose Luis Garcia Paneque and all other
political prisoners held in Cuba, after
meeting the dissident reporter's family
at the White House.
"He did nothing more than advocate
for freedom, and he is now in prison and
not only is he in prison ... he is ill,"
Bush said during a ceremony marking Latin
"One of the messages I have for the
Cuban leaders is: free this man and free
other political prisoners. He is not a threat
to you. Let him be reunited with the woman
who loves him dearly and his four children,"
At his White House meeting, Bush spoke
with Garcia Paneque's wife, Yamile Llanes
Labrada, and her daughter Shirley.
After heading an independent news agency
in Las Tunas, Cuba, Garcia Paneque was arrested
in August 2003 and charged with collaborating
with a foreign power, according to his wife.
He is now serving a 24-year prison sentence.
Reporters Without Borders recently said
the former plastic surgeon was seriously
ill with gastric problems that took a turn
for the worse after his imprisonment.
The White House said Garcia Paneque ran
an independent library and took part in
a grass-root campaign to press the Cuban
government to show respect for human rights
and open the country to democratic reforms.
Dissident sources in Cuba put the number
of political prisoners in their country
at around 250.