Cuban journalist sentenced to 14 years in prison
Arrest followed reports containing criticism of government project
By: Scott Griffen, Press Freedom Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean
VIENNA, Nov 19, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed grave concern at the sentencing of Cuban reporter José Antonio Torres to 14 years in prison for espionage.
A journalist for the state-run newspaper Granma, Torres was detained on March 11, 2011, shortly after publishing a pair of articles containing criticism of a government aqueduct project near the town of Santiago de Cuba, IPI reported earlier this year.
The Cuban government has given no details as to the nature of the espionage charges. Dissident José Daniel Ferrer García told El Nuevo Herald that Torres had appealed the sentence, but that the journalist “feared greater consequences,” noting that an appeals court could increase the prison term. The Herald also reported that Torres’s journalism degree had been suspended.
“Given that the Cuban government has not publicly presented any evidence to support these charges, IPI is concerned that this sentence may be a punishment for José Antonio Torres’s journalistic work,” IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said. “We are particularly troubled that this verdict was announced in the midst of a crackdown by Cuban authorities on independent journalism.”
IPI last week strongly condemned the arrests in Cuba of at least 27 dissidents, among them journalist Yaremis Flores and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Yoani Sánchez, and renewed its call on the Cuban government to release imprisoned Hablemos Press journalist Calixto Martínez Arias.