Cuba's most prominent dissident blogger, Yoani Sánchez, said she was abducted, beaten and threatened by state security agents in Havana. Three men forced her and another blogger, Orlando Luis Pardo, into an unmarked car, roughed them up and warned they had gone too far in criticising the island's communist government, she said.
"One man put his knee on my chest and the other, from the seat next to me, was punching me in the face," according to a blog posted after Friday's incident in Vedado, near downtown Havana.
The men wore civilian clothes but Sánchez said there was no doubt they were state agents. They warned bystanders not to intervene, shouting: "Stay out of it, these are counter-revolutionaries."
There was no immediate reaction from state media and no way to independently verify the account.
The 34-year-old author's wry and sometimes caustic observations about life under Castro rule attract about 1m hits a month, mostly from abroad, and have garnered several international awards.
Sánchez plays cat and mouse with the authorities to dodge internet restrictions and post the blog, which is often blocked in Cuba.
She said she and Pardo were walking to a "march against violence", organised by fellow dissidents, when she was dragged into the black, Chinese-made car. Blows rained down.
In desperation she grabbed one of her attacker's testicles. "I dug my nails in, thinking he was going to crush my chest until the last breath. 'Kill me now,' I screamed, with the last inhalation I had left in me, and the one in front warned the younger one, 'Let her breathe'."
They were driven around Havana, told to stop "clowning around" with blogs and after about 20 minutes released, bruised and shaken but not seriously hurt, she said.
"The Cuban authorities are using brute force to try to silence Yoani Sánchez's only weapon: her ideas," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch. "The international community must send a firm message to Raul Castro that such attacks on independent voices are completely unacceptable."
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