Groups Call for Castro Government to Release Doctor

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - Some members of Congress, the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), Amnesty International, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Physicians for Human Rights have called on the Castro government to release Doctor Oscar Elias Biscet, a Cuban prisoner since 1998.

Biscet, along with a colleague, a computer technican not named, was arrested by Cuban authorities and charged with "improper use of state-owned materials" in connection with a study that Biscet and his colleague did on abortion, according to a report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Human Rights Action Network.

The report went on to say that Biscet is an anti-abortion activist. He used a Cuban hospital's computers to study the drug "Rivanol" that reportedly is prescribed to induce abortion after the third month of pregnancy.

The association believes that Biscet's arrest violates international human rights standards, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was enacted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Biscet, in the past, has been known as a pro-life advocate and has publicly criticized the Castro regime.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has appealed to the State Department for help in obtaining Biscet's release because, she says, he is "clinging to life" while in solitary confinement.

"Doctor Biscet has been the subject of systematic harassment, intimidation, imprisonment and torture for advocating freedom and democracy for the Cuban people. He has been denied medical attention and continues to have his religious rights violated by being refused a Bible and visits by his spiritual advisor," Ros-Lehtinen said in her letter to the State Department.

The State Department had no comment on Ros-Lehtinen's letter. She released copies of it during a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday.

Ros-Lehtinen also said, "Doctor Biscet has been a guiding light and a source of strength and inspiration for the dissident community in Cuba, helping to galvanize people of all ages to call for an end to the oppressive dictatorial regime of Fidel Castro in order to usher in a future of freedom, human rights and democracy for the Cuban people."

Ros-Lehtinen has been joined in her efforts to free Biscet by her Florida colleague, Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL). He thinks Biscet really "represents the Cuban people."

"He is, without any doubt, going to be a leader in the future democratic Cuba. He represents the dignity, the patriotism, the courage and the perseverance of the Cuban people. He languishes today in a Castro dungeon along with thousands of others, who, because of their beliefs, are thrown in prison simply because they support freedom and democracy," Diaz-Balart told a Capitol Hill news conference.

Victoria Baxter of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said, "Doctor Biscet through his role at the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, has been a strong voice in the defense of human rights, particularly the right of life. He's been arrested countless times, beaten and threatened by the Cuban government. Those in power know that the world is watching and that their repression is not going unnoticed."

Biscet's wife remains in Cuba and reports say she expects to visit her husband in the maximum security prison on Thursday.