BAYAMO, Cuba - Cuba arrested a dissident blogger and other activists one day before the start of a Spanish activist's high-profile manslaughter trial, a rights advocate said on Friday, in a move the US State Department said is aimed at silencing critics.
Blogger Yoani Sanchez, her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, and their driver were taken into custody along with a half dozen other local dissidents on Thursday, said Elizardo Sanchez of the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights.
Government-linked blogger Yohandry Fontana said authorities were driving Sanchez and Escobar from Bayamo to Havana on Friday afternoon. Their car was being towed back because of its "dreadful mechanical condition," he said.
Government officials had no comment on the arrests. But Fontana said Sanchez was detained because she had gone to Bayamo, 415 miles (668 km) southeast of Havana, intent on creating a "provocation and media show" at the trial of Spaniard Angel Carromero.
Carromero, who was at the wheel in the July 22 car wreck that killed dissidents Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero, went on trial on Friday on manslaughter charges.