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Cuba3 January 2006

State security agents threaten young journalist with imprisonment

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the use of threats by state security agents on 29 December against 21-year-old Liannis Meriño Aguilera, the editor of the independent Youth without Censorship news agency.

“We again protest against the constant harassment of independent journalists by the Cuban authorities, which is often the prelude to arbitrary arrests and heavy prison sentences,” the press freedom organisation said. “We call on the authorities to let Meriño and her team of young journalists work freely.”

Meriño was arrested at her home in Obrero Banes (in the eastern province of Holguín) by two state security agents, who took her to the local fire brigade centre and held her there for two hours, the Cubanet website reported.

The agent in charge of combating the opposition in Holguín ordered her to stop working as an independent journalist. He also accused her of reporting false information, which is punishable by imprisonment.

After being released, Meriño rejected the accusation and said she intended to continue her work. Her news agency, which was created in September, consists of six young journalists aged between 19 and 30.

Meriño recently wrote a dispatch for Cubanet about the dismissal of two persons from a cigar factory for homosexuality. It may have been this that prompted the use of threats by the authorities.

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