Wife says Cuban dissident gets 3 years on assault charge

HAVANA - (AP) -- A Cuban dissident described by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience has been sentenced to three years in prison on an assault charge that his backers describe as fabricated, his wife said Monday.

Eduardo Cardet, a physician who heads the Christian Liberation Movement, was found guilty of attacking a police officer, Cardet's wife, Yaimary Vecino, told The Associated Press on Monday.

Vecino said Cardet was in his cell Monday afternoon when he was informed that he had received the maximum sentence. She said he would appeal the sentence.

"I never thought it would be like this," she said. "He had a strong defense."

Vecino said her husband was arrested in the fall a day after returning from a trip to the United States. She said security agents accused him of assaulting one of them.

According to Amnesty International, five witnesses said Cardet was pushed off his bicycle and detained by five agents as he returned home from visiting his mother Nov. 30. The rights group said in January that Cardet was a prisoner of conscience detained for exercising freedom of expression and it called on Cuba's government to release him.

Cuban officials consider dissidents to be traitors paid by the U.S. government and exile groups hoping to overthrow President Raul Castro's government.

The Christian Liberation Movement was founded by dissident Oswaldo Paya, who died in a car wreck in 2012. Many dissidents have accused the government of causing the wreck. The government said it was an accident caused by driver error.

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