HAVANA (AP) — Cuban dissident José Daniel Ferrer was placed under house arrest Friday after a court sentenced him to 4 1/2 years for assault and kidnapping but released him from the prison where he had spent the past half year.
Ferrer, a strong opponent of the island’s communist government, is at the center of a dispute between Havana and Washington, which has called for the 49-year-old’s liberation and described his imprisonment as a human rights violation.
Cuba insists Ferrer and three other activists from the National Patriotic Union of Cuba dissident group imprisoned with him were guilty of common crimes and U.S. officials are using the case to stigmatize Cuba’s government.
All of the dissidents were found guilty by the court and received sentences that were commuted to house arrest.
“It was a verbal notification,” Ferrer said of the decision, speaking to The Associated Press by telephone from his home in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. The activist said he was taken from prison to the court where he was read the sentence.
“I am not going to comply with any of the rules imposed by the court,” he said of the order not to carry out political activity. “I will continue with more strength than ever.”
Ferrer went on trial in late February accused, along with the three other activists, of injuring and participating in the kidnapping of a Cuban man.
Ferrer had called the case against them a montage, and human rights groups like Amnesty International complained about their legal situation.
The case comes at a moment of tension between the two countries, as the Trump administration tightens sanctions on the island.
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