Afrique Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Cuba23 May 2007

Independent journalist completes a year in prison without trial

Reporters Without Borders reiterated its call for the release of Armando Betancourt, 45, as he today completed a year in detention without trial. A contributor to the Nueva Prensa Cubana website and founder of the underground magazine El Camagüeyano, he was arrested by the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) on 23 May 2006 in the central city of Camagüey.

“Betancourt’s only offense was to work as a journalist,” the press freedom organisation said. “There are no serious grounds for holding him and even the judges have acknowledged inconsistencies in the testimony about the circumstances of his arrest. Given the element of doubt and absence of any charge, Betancourt should be freed.”

Betancourt went to cover the eviction of families squatting at a dump in Camagüey on 23 May 2006 and began to question some of the people present, who were protesting against the heavy-handed police operation. The police approached Betancourt and asked him to identify himself. When he said he was an independent journalist, he was immediately arrested.

On 29 May 2006, he was transferred to the premises of the PNR’s 3rd detachment in Camagüey and placed in solitary confinement. From there, he was transferred to Camagüey’s Cerámica Roja prison on 6 June 2006.

He was brought before the Camagüey municipal court on a charge of “disturbing the peace” on 8 February of this year, but the trial was quickly adjourned after the judges found that the statements provided by witness and members of the State Security (the political police) were “contradictory.”

Cuba continues to be the world’s second biggest prison for the press, with a total of 25 journalists detained. Twenty of them were arrested in the “Black Spring” crackdown of March 2003 and are serving jail terms ranging from 14 to 27 years. The other five have been arrested since then. Two of them have never been tried and three are serving prison sentences of between three and four years.



In this country
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence
24 February - Cuba
After a year of Raúl Castro as president, political opening still ignores imprisoned journalists
3 February - Cuba
As UN conducts universal periodic review, 205 political prisoners, including 23 journalists, await release.
3 October - Cuba
US finally issues visas to Prensa Latina’s two UN correspondents

in the annual report
Cuba - Annual Report 2008
Cuba - Annual report 2007
Cuba - Annual report 2006


reports
14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press
archives

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
15 May - Colombia
Former intelligence officials leak list of news media and journalists whose phones were tapped
14 May - United States
Arraignment of suspected mastermind of Chauncey Bailey’s murder postponed again

Americas archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Sign the petitions
Cuba
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez
Cuba
Fabio Prieto Llorente
United States
Chauncey Bailey
A petition to Raúl Castro