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Cuba20 September 2006

Non-Aligned summit promises already forgotten as one journalist is arrested and another goes on hunger strike in prison

Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today at the renewed harassment of independent journalists with Odelín Alfonso’s arrest by state security agents at his Havana home on 16 September and the stalled verdict in the trial of Alberto Gil Triay Casales, who began a hunger strike on 13 September in Valle Grande prison in west Havana in protest against the seven-year sentence he faces on a charge of “subversive propaganda.”

“We firmly condemn the arbitrary arrest of Alfonso, who was already detained by the National Revolutionary Police in May,” the press freedom organisation said. “We are also worried about the fate of Triay Casales, who health is deteriorating. He has had several heart attacks and has high blood pressure. He also has a serious hip problem that could leave him disabled if it is not treated properly.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “We call on the Cuban authorities to release these two journalists in accordance with the human rights commitments it made at the end of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Havana.”

A correspondent for the Miami-based news website Cubanet, Alfonso was previously arrested by the political police in May and ordered to put a stop to his journalistic activities. He was also told he would go to prison if he did not stop working as self-employed electrician. Alfonso said he did not comply with these demands.

The founder of the Estrella Solitaria information centre, Triay Casales, 55, wrote articles every week for Payolibre, another Miami-based website. Following his arrest on 9 November, he was held for 20 days at the Department for Technical Investigation. He was hospitalised after several heart attacks and then transferred in early December to Valle Grande prison. His trial took place on 22 June, but no verdict or sentence has been announced.

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