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.