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Cuba17 May 2006

Odelín Alfonso released after being held for several hours

It has emerged that Cubanet correspondent Odelín Alfonso was held for just a few hours at a National Revolutionary Police station in the Havana district of Arroyo Naranjo after being arrested with his wife on their return from a meeting organised by the Ladies in White on 13 May. Two days before the meeting, a member of the State Security (the political police) had told him not to attend. He has been fined for “resistance and outrage.”

16.05.06 - Two journalists arrested, one still held without charge

Reporters Without Borders condemned the brutal and unfair arrests of Odelín Alfonso, a regular contributor to Cubanet and Milisa Valle Ricardo of the Jóvenes sin Censura news agency on 13 May 2006 and the continued detention of Alfonso without any specific charges being put to him.

“These arrests reveal once again an unfairness and denial of justice. No real reason exists to explain these repressive acts. It is pure and simple intimidation directed against peaceful opposition figures whose fate varies, apparently, according to the mood of their jailers,” said Reporters Without Borders, adding, “We hope that Odelín Alfonso will be quickly released”.

Alfonso, a member of the Liberal Orthodox party and correspondent for Cubanet, was arrested with his wife, on 13 May in a Havana neighbourhood, when he was returning from a meeting with the Ladies in White (a collective of mothers and wives of political prisoners). An officer in State Security (political police), known as Moísés, had ordered the journalist not to attend the meeting.

Alfonso and his wife were brutally arrested at their home in front of their young daughter, having been denounced by a neighbour. The State Security took them to a local National Revolutionary Police (PNR) station, where the journalist is still being held. His wife was released a few hours later.

Milisa Valle Ricardo, of the small independent agency, Jóvenes sin Censura, was arrested on the same day in Gibara, Holguín province in eastern Cuba, with her husband, Alexander Santos Hernández, a member of the Cuban Liberal Movement (MLC) and director of an independent library.

The couple were intercepted by the PNR on their return from Havana where they attended an MLC meeting. Police surrounded their marital home and seized all the books from the independent library, “Guillermo Cabrera Infante II”, along with two radios, before taking the journalist and her husband to the police station. They were both warned that their “activities would no longer be tolerated and that this warning would be “the last”.

Liannis Meriño Aguilera, 21, head of Jóvenes sin Censura, founded in September 2005 by young independent journalists, was threatened with imprisonment on 29 December 2005 by two State Security agents in Obrero Banes, near Holguín.

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