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Cuba25 July 2005

Independent journalist included in wave of arrests of dissidents

Reporters Without Borders today roundly condemned the arrest of independent journalist Oscar Mario González of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro news agency, who was detained at the same time as at least 15 other dissidents on the morning of 22 July.

Referring to the 21 other journalists already being held in dreadful conditions in prisons throughout the island since 18 March 2003, the organisation said González had become "the 22nd example of the deplorable state of press freedom in Cuba."

More dissidents were arrested last week than at any time since the so-called Black Spring of March 2003. Thirteen of those detained on 22 July were still being held today, including González, who was reportedly being held at a police station in the Havana municipality of Playa.

The exact circumstances of his arrest are unknown. He has been allowed to receive some packages but he has not been allowed any visits.

When González was summoned and questioned by two state security agents in Havana on 24 March, he was told he would not see his family again if he continued to work against the government as a journalist. He was offered the chance of going to Sweden where his daughter lives, but he refused.

Three of the journalists held since March 2003 for threatening "the state’s independence and territorial integrity" are members of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro news agency. They are Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez (who is serving a 20-year prison sentence), Omar Moisés Ruiz Hernández (who was sentenced to 18 years) and José Ubaldo Izquierdo Hernández (16 years).

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