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Cuban opposition figure Guillermo Farinas arrested three days before banned protest

Published: Updated:

Cuban dissident, journalist and human rights campaigner Guillermo Farinas was arrested Friday, his mother told AFP, three days before opposition figures plan to hold a protest that has been banned by the government.

“They arrested him today. They took him around 2:10 pm,” Farina’s mother Alicia Hernandez said.

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She said her son is on antibiotics because of a urinary tract infection.

“An ambulance and two police patrols came and took him to the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital,” Hernandez said.

“They told me that tomorrow a prosecutor will visit him to charge him, but we don’t know what for.”

Farinas, 59, is a psychologist by training and has worked as an independent journalist and human rights activist. He won the European Parliament’s 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Over the last 20-something years, Farinas has undertaken 23 hunger strikes to protest the Cuban government, considerably damaging his health.

He is a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, the most active political opposition group in the country. It is led by Jose Daniel Ferrer, who is currently in prison.

Farinas’ arrest comes before a planned opposition-led demonstration set for Monday to protest on behalf of political prisoners in Cuba. The gathering has been banned by the island’s communist government.

Government authorities allege protest organizers are backed by Washington and seeking to provoke regime change.

Cuban officials, who deny the existence of political prisoners in the country, consider the opposition, which they say is financed by the United States, to be illegitimate.

Nationwide, unprecedented street protests rocked Cuba in July.

Read more: Foreign ministers of more than 20 countries condemn mass arrests in Cuba