IFJ Condemns Prison Sentences on Cuban Journalists Accused of Collaborating with the US

The International Federation of Journalists condemned the jail terms imposed on Cuban journalists arrested in a recent crackdown on dissidents. The trials began on April 3, and the first sentences were announced yesterday. Among those sentenced was independent journalist Raúl Rivero, who was jailed for 20 years.

"This is an outrageous and unacceptable attack on independent journalism," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Journalists around the world, many of who are sympathetic to Cuba given the history of political and economic isolation the country has suffered, will be shocked at this action."

The IFJ says the victimisation of independent journalists is a serious blow for press freedom, and is calling on the Cuban authorities to revoke the sentences and release those journalists still being held.

The recent wave of arrests started on March 18. Since then, about 80 persons, including 28 journalists, have been arrested, accused of collaborating with the United States. They have been charged under Article 91 of the Penal Code or for violating Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba's National Independence and Economy.

The hearings have been held behind closed doors. "It is unacceptable for these hearings to take place behind closed doors," said White "It is a violation of international rules of justice and the right of everyone to a fair and open trial."

The IFJ says Cuba must respond immediately to international concerns that this victimisation of journalists will compromise the safety of all journalists working in the country.