Cuba - Three dissident journalists arrested in space of 24 hours

by Reporters Without Borders | Reporters Without Borders
Monday, 14 October 2013 05:35 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of three dissident journalists who were arrested within the space of 24 hours at the end of last week in Havana.

Mario Echevarría Driggs, a reporter for the Misceláneas de Cuba website, was arrested while covering a demonstration near the National Capitol on 10 October. David Águila Montero, head of the Independent Journalists' Social Agency (ASPI), was arrested as he left his home the next morning.

William Cacer Díaz, a reporter for the Hablemos Press news centre, was arrested by State Security (the political police) a few hours later as he was going to Hablemos Press headquarters.

"These targeted acts of repression are the unfortunate continuation of Cuba's rejection of the UN Human Rights Council's recommendations on freedom of expression in Geneva on 20 September," Reporters Without Borders said.

"This attitude is all the more incomprehensible in the light of Cuban civil society's growing debate about information, a debate in which the official media have now joined. You cannot hope to debate and reform everything while continuing to resort to censorship, brutality and arbitrary measures. The detained journalists and netizens must be freed at once."

Reporters Without Borders added: "As current holder of the rotating presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Cuba has all the more reason for honouring its obligations on civil liberties and human rights, as President Raúl Castro himself promised. Ratification of the UN covenants on civil and political rights can wait no longer."

Two other news providers are currently detained in Cuba: the writer and blogger Angel Santiesteban-Prats, who has been held since 28 February, and José Antonio Torres, a journalist with the Communist Party daily Granma, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in July 2011 on unexplained charges of "spying."

The three latest arrests follow an increase in repressive measures in recent weeks.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the "acto de repudio" (act of public vilification) organized outside dissident journalist Juan Carlos González Leiva's home on 12 October, a week after the police summoned the blogger and activist Isbel Díaz Torres after a debate on the future of the Labour Code that was organized by the Communist Party and Workers Central.