WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- A Cuban dissident testified by telephone before a U.S. congressional committee, calling on Pope Benedict XVI to "lobby" for freedom in Cuba.
Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet told a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs committee Thursday he was risking return to prison by speaking out, The Miami Herald reported.
He said if he had a chance to talk to the pope during his coming visit to Cuba he would ask him to use the opportunity to publicize human rights violations.
"I would say to him, that I would love for him to lobby for our freedom of speech and for a multi-party system, so that everyone can participate and be represented," Biscet said through a translator, speaking from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. "We hope that his coming will bring great change to our country."
Biscet has been in prison much of the time since 1999. He was freed in March as part of a large release of political prisoners
He told the committee he was brutally beaten by police.
Members of the committee said they would ask Pope Benedict to arrange a meeting with Biscet.
"Now it is up to Catholic Church to respond to Dr. Biscet," Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., said. "It is up to the pope himself to respond to Dr. Biscet. I would hope they would be responsive to Dr. Biscet's hope and aspirations and his request of the pope and the Catholic Church."