Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned an assault on Agence-France-Presse (AFP) journalist Jorge Carlos Forbes as he left the opening of a contemporary Cuban art exhibition at the Great Arch of La Défense in Paris on 20 January.
The international press freedom organisation had earlier in the evening demonstrated outside the exhibition at the foot of the Great Arch to draw attention to the fact that 30 journalists are currently behind bars in Cuba. Its members had left before the assault took place.
Forbes was standing in front of the Great Arch with two Cuban exiles when the Cuban culture minister and Cuban ambassador to Paris left the exhibition. Following a heated exchange between the two dissidents and the Cuban government representatives, four members of their security staff set upon the journalist. He told them he was journalist but was struck hard on the face, causing him to collapse on the ground injuring his arm. The journalist immediately made an official complaint to the police and on 21 January went to hospital for X-ray tests.
"Cuba, where 30 journalists are in prison simply because they expressed an opinion different to that of the government, is currently the world’s biggest prison for journalists," said Reporters without Borders. "Yesterday’s assault showed that, even on French territory, the Cuban authorities are quite prepared to directly target journalists in total contempt for press freedom and human rights," it added.
The international press freedom organisation recalled that this was not the first time journalists had been attacked in France by those close to the Cuban authorities. Independent journalist Ricardo Vega, was assaulted on 24 April 2003, during a Reporters Without Borders demonstration in front of the Cuban Embassy in Paris.
More news available on the special page "Cuba, the world’s biggest prison for journalists".