Miguel Galván Gutiérrez was arrested in March 2003 during an unprecedented crackdown launched by the Cuban government and sentenced to 26 years in prison after being found guilty of being a "mercenary in the service of a foreign power".
At his trial, more than 100 security agents surrounded the courthouse to prevent any dissident demonstrations. The journalist’s poor state of health, following an operation to his right hand and arm were rejected as reasons to spare him prison. The court took the view that if he was fit enough to work for human rights there was no reason he could not go to jail.
Engineer and holder of several post-graduate degrees, Miguel Galván Gutiérrez joined the independent Engineers and Architects Institute after losing his job because of his political ideas in 1999. He was president of the organisation until February 2002. At the same time he worked as an independent journalist for the news agency Havana Press, one of the ten news agencies belonging to the Nueva Prensa Cubana press group.
The journalist is currently imprisoned in Agüica, in Matanzas Province, 98 km from the capital. He has been left extremely weakened by successive hunger strikes in protest at his prison conditions as well as spells in an “isolation cell”, used to punish inmates for “insolence” or “resistance”. He suffers from severe fevers, joint pain and urinary problems, for which he is denied the appropriate treatment.
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez is also under constant pressure from the prison authorities, who regularly threaten to transfer him to a prison more than 800 km from his home and to deprive him of already very infrequent family visits and telephone calls, to which he has a right.
France : : Christian Kert, French deputy ; André Rossinot, Mayor of Nancy, Europe 2, La Croix
Spain : ABC
Belgium: Le Ligueur
Canada: Radio Canada International, The Chronicle Herald, Times Colonist