Cuba to release 2,900 prisoners

HAVANA - Cuba, which is preparing for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI next spring, will release 2,900 prisoners in the coming days for humanitarian reasons, including some convicted of crimes against "the security of the state," the Cuban government said on Friday.
In an official note, the government did not directly link the release with the Pope's visit, but said the prisoners would be freed after "numerous" requests by family members and religious institutions.
There was no indication whether American Alan Gross, serving 15 years in prison for working to set up Internet equipment in Cuba under a secretive US program pushing political change on the island, would be among those freed.
Gross has been jailed for two years in a case that stalled progress in US-Cuba relations.
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