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Independent journalists hounded and arrested, while Granma reporter get 14 years on spying charge

Independent journalists hounded and arrested, while Granma reporter get

14 years on spying charge

Published on Wednesday 14 November 2012. Updated on Friday 16 November 2012.

Reporters Without Borders condemns a worrying increase in harassment of

dissidents in recent months, which has yet again contradicted the

intentions manifested by the Cuban government when signing two United

Nations human rights agreements in 2008.

Neither of these agreements – the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and

Cultural Rights – has yet been ratified.

"The hopes raised by the release of the 'Black Spring' prisoners in 2010

are fading," Reporters Without Borders said. "This renewed crackdown

should be condemned by the international community, especially the Latin

American countries, which must put human rights and freedom of

information at the centre of their relations with Cuba as it seeks

regional integration."

Reporters Without Borders has also learned that José Antonio Torres, a

correspondent for the government newspaper Granma in Santiago, Cuba's

second largest city, is considering the possibility of appealing against

his conviction on a charge of spying but fears that his sentence could

be increased if he does.

Arrested in 2011 after writing articles about mismanagement of a

Santiago aqueduct project and the installation of fibre-optic cable

between Venezuela and Cuba, Torres was sentenced in July to 14 years in

prison and withdrawal of his university degree in journalism.

Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, a journalist with the independent Hablemos

Press news agency, began a hunger strike six days ago in protest against

conditions in Valle Grande prison, to which he was transferred on 10

November.

Arrested on 16 September after writing about a cholera and dengue

epidemic before the government had issued any statement on the subject,

he is facing a sentence of up to three years in prison on a charge of

insulting the president.

Commenting on the case, Reporters Without Borders said: "Martínez has

been detained for too long. We call on the Cuban authorities to release

this journalist, who was just doing his duty to report the news."

Hablemos Press journalists have repeatedly been the victims of threats

and arbitrary detention in the course of the crackdown of the past few

months.

In one of the most recent instances, Hablemos Press director Roberto de

Jesus Guerra Perez was interrogated and threatened for several hours on

8 November, a week after one of the news agency's reporters, Jaime

Leygonier, was subjected to a similar ordeal.

Enyor Díaz Allen, the Hablemos Press correspondent in the eastern city

of Guantánamo, was arrested on the morning of 6 November and was held

for three days while all of his work equipment (a computer, two cameras

and a mobile phone) were confiscated.

Eleven dissidents were arrested when they went to a Havana police

station on 7 November to enquire about Yaremis Flores, a lawyer held on

a charge of "crime against the state." They included the blogger and

political activist Antonio Rodiles, who is still being held and is

facing a sentence of three months to a year in prison on charges of

resisting the authorities.

The next day, when a second group of dissidents went to the police

station to find out what had happened to their colleagues, 16 of them,

including the blogger Yoani Sánchez, were arrested on charges of public

disorder, "social indiscipline" and activities "deliberately

orchestrated by the US authorities."

This was Sánchez's second arrested in two months. She and her husband,

independent journalist Reynaldo Escobar, were arrested on 4 October and

held for 30 hours when they went to the eastern city of Bayamo to cover

the trial of Angel Carromero, a Spanish political activist accused of

dangerous driving causing Cuban opposition activist Oswaldo Payá's death

in July.

The day after her first release, she wrote on Twitter: "During my

detention, I refused to eat or drink any liquid. This is the first glass

of water that I am having on arriving home, for an oesophagus on fire."

She also reported that she was mistreated, as a result of which one of

her teeth was broken.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights announced on 12 November that

it is requesting preventive measures to guarantee the life and physical

integrity of Sánchez and her relatives in response to the complaint that

she brought before the court accusing the Cuban state of systematically

violating her rights and freedom of movement.

Sánchez has been refused 20 foreign travel permits since 2007. On 8

November, the day of her second arrest, the Inter-American Press

Association appointed her as the regional vice-chairperson for Cuba of

its Press Freedom Committee.

http://en.rsf.org/cuba-independent-journalists-hounded-16-11-2012,43688.html

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