Reporters Without Borders today hailed the release yesterday of journalist Carlos Brizuela Yera of the Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey, an independent news agency in south-eastern Cuba. He was freed on completing a three-year sentence.
"We welcome the news of his release and we hope he will be able to go back to work as a journalist without being harassed by the authorities," the press freedom organization said. "His release did not involve any clemency on the part of the regime and we have not forgotten that 21 other Cuban journalists continue to be imprisoned just for doing their job," the organization added.
Brizuela’s arrest and imprisonment came a year before the major crackdown on the independent press in the spring of 2003.
"He and a group of activists from the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights wanted to pay me a visit in the Ciego de Ávila provincial hospital [in the centre of the country], where I had been admitted after a violent run-in with the police," Cuba Press journalist Jesús Álvarez Castillo told Reporters Without Borders.
Brizuela and eight other people were arrested and put in the provincial prison of Holguín (in eastern Cuba). A court sentenced him on 27 April 2002 to three years in prison for "disobedience," refusing to heed the authorities, disturbing the peace and "insulting the person of the president."
"He says he is very weak," Reporters Without Borders was told by Cuban Foundation for Human Rights director Juan Carlos Gonzalez Leyva, who received a phone call from Brizuela as soon as he got out of prison. "He has skin ailments and says he has memory problems although he is only 30."
Reporters Without Borders continues to campaign for the release of the 21 other imprisoned journalists who are serving sentences ranging from 14 to 27 years.