State Department Not Sure If It Has Full List of Cuba’s Political Prisoners

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After a U.S.-Cuban press conference Monday at which Cuban President Raúl Castro promised to release Cuba’s political prisoners if he was provided a list of their names, the State Department could not say whether it had an exhaustive list of Cuba’s political prisoners.

“I don’t know if we have an exhaustive list, clearly there are people still detained for political purposes and we routinely raise their cases,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked Kirby whether the U.S. could “give the Cubans a list of … political prisoners who should be released,” to which Kirby again said he did not know of such a list.

“Let me take the question because I don’t – if there is such a list, I don’t have it in front of me,” Kirby said. “But clearly we know that people continue to be detained for political purposes there.”

He said that the U.S. “routinely” brings up the issue of political prisoners with Cuba, especially now that the Obama administration has restored diplomatic relations with the country.

When asked about political prisoners in Cuba at a joint press conference earlier Monday, Castro said he would release whatever alleged prisoners were being held if he was provided with a list of their names.

“What political prisoners? Give me a name, or names, or after this meeting is over you can give me a list of political prisoners and if we have those political prisoners they will be released before tonight ends,” Castro said.

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