Obama administration joins congressional call for probe into deaths of Cuban activists

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"We have been supporting this privately," she added. "We had not had a chance to make a public statement that we are supportive of this. As you know, a number of human rights groups are coming out publicly. We thought we should add our voice to it as loudly and clearly as possible."

Eight senators from both sides of the aisle sent a letter to the Organization of American States last week urging such a probe.

“Oswaldo Payá was a brave man trying to peacefully advocate for greater political freedom for his fellow Cuban brothers and sisters,” the senators wrote in a letter to Emilio Álvarez Icaza, the executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. “It increasingly looks like he paid for that effort with his life. His memory and his family deserve an honest and independent accounting of what happened.

“We urge you for your consideration and stand ready to work with you on this important matter.”

Separately, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging an investigation two weeks ago after meeting with activist Yoani Sánchez on Capitol Hill.