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Cuba18 July 2005

Authorities rough up independent journalist, hold her for seven hours

Reporters Without Borders today deplored the use of violence by State Security and National Revolutionary Police on the Isle of Youth against Lamasiel Gutiérrez Romero of the Nueva Prensa Cubana news agency, who was roughed up, held for seven hours and fined for resisting the authorities as she was about to travel to the Cuban mainland on 14 July.

"Once again we have to condemn the brutal and arbitrary methods used by the Cuban authorities against the independent press," the organisation said. "As usual, the most absurd charges were brought against a journalist whose only crime is failing to spout official propaganda. These idiotic and revolting ploys should stop."

A resident of the Isle of Youth (located off the western province of Pinar del Río), Gutiérrez had just bought a ticket to Havana when three State Security agents arrested her. "They hit me in the chest and back, pinned me to the ground and then a National Revolutionary Police patrol car pulled up and they took me to the police station," she told Reporters Without Borders.

She was interrogated and made to pay two fines, of 30 and 20 pesos. "The police accused me of insubordination, disturbing the peace and resisting the authorities. They said I was harming the revolution and could get a prison sentence of one to two years." She said she thought her arrest was prompted by her participation in a meeting of independent journalists on 4 July.

She was sent to a hospital to be examined but the doctors there declined to give her a medical certificate. "The doctors said the marks left by the blows were not visible enough," she told Reporters Without Borders.

She was sent back to the police station after the medical examination. "I spent seven hours in a filthy cell, with no water and food. The policemen threatened me again. They ordered me to stop my activities, which I won’t do." She was finally released at 1 a.m. on 15 July.

Gutiérrez is the wife of Rolando Jiménez Posada, a political prisoner who has been held since 25 April 2003.

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