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Cuba frees jailed Czechs

HAVANA (CNN) -- Two prominent Czech citizens who had been held on state security charges since January 12 were freed Monday after they admitted they broke Cuban law by meeting with dissidents.

Former Finance Minister Ivan Pilip, 37, and former student leader Jan Bubenik, 32, went to Havana's airport, where they were to board a flight scheduled to depart late Monday for Madrid.

The two men were freed after they were taken to the Foreign Ministry, where they signed a statement saying they had unwittingly violated Cuban laws when they met with dissidents here in January, sources involved in the agreement told CNN.

In addition to apologizing to the Cuban people, they acknowledged having received money from Freedom House, a non-government organization in the United States that receives money from the U.S. government to help support the dissident movement in Cuba.

Serving as intermediaries for the Czech government, Anders Johnson, secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Juan Pablo Letelier, president of the group's human rights commission, brokered the deal after meeting with Cuban officials.

Letelier is the son of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean ambassador to the United States who was killed in Washington in 1976 by a car bomb blamed on anti-Castro Cuban exiles.

Cuba had threatened to put Pilip and Bubenik on trial for subversion, prompting an international uproar.



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