16 October 1998


Journalist detained

Incident details

Manuel Antonio González Castellanos



(CPJ/IFEX) - CPJ is condemning the imprisonment of journalist Manuel Antonio
González Castellanos. González, a correspondent for the independent news
service CubaPress, was arrested on charges of sedition (desacato) on the
evening of 1 October 1998 in San Germán, Holguín Province, by State Security
agents (See IFEX alert of 6 October 1998).

**Updates IFEX alerts as noted in text; Ninguna version española sera
According to local journalists and other sources, González was arrested
after he made negative statements about President Castro to State Security
agents who had stopped and questioned him as he was returning from a
friend's house. When family members learned of González's detention and
tried to contact him at the local police station the following morning, they
were met by a group of protesters who insulted them. González's relatives
were so indignant that they painted "Down with Fidel (Abajo Fidel)" on the
walls of their house. Later that day, an estimated 2,000 people gathered
outside González's home and screamed insults. State Security agents broke
into his home, and beat and arrested two of
Gonzalez's relatives along with a political dissident who was also present
in their house. According to local sources, many of the protesters who
gathered in front of González's house were farm workers who had been told
they would be docked a day's pay if they did not participate in the
demonstration. After the protest rally, the González family's phone was cut
off for nearly a week.

While the sedition charges against González stem from an interaction that is
unrelated to his journalistic work, local journalists suspect that he was
deliberately provoked by State Security agents in retaliation for reports
filed from Holguín about the activities of political dissidents. Such
suspicions are given credence by an incident that occurred in July, when
González was contacted by a man claiming to be conveying information from a
Cuban exile in Miami. When González met with the source, he was questioned
about his journalistic work and told that a Cuban exile group wanted to
recruit him for subversive activities. González declined the offer and later
determined that the man with whom he had met had never been in touch with
the exiles in Miami he claimed to represent. González believes the man was a
State Security agent attempting to entrap him.

CPJ fears that González was provoked, detained, and imprisoned in
retaliation for his work as a journalist. Such action would be a clear
violation of Article 19 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
which guarantees the right to "seek, receive and impart information and
ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

In the two weeks since González was arrested, he has been moved from San
Germán to the Holguín Provisional Prison in the provincial capital.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the President:

  • calling on him to drop the sedition charges against González and release
    him, along with journalists Lorenzo Páez Núñez from the Buro de Prensa
    Independiente de Cuba (BPIC), who was convicted of defamation on 12 July
    1997 (see IFEX alerts of 20 and 9 February 1998, 9 September and 16 July
    1997); and Bernardo Arévalo Padron, founder of the Línea Sur Press news
    agency in Cienfuegos, who was sentenced to six years in prison for sedition
    on 31 October 1997 (see IFEX alerts of 29 April, 16 March, 20 and 9 February
    1998 and others)
  • urging him to suspend the sentence against Juan Carlos Recio Martínez,
    CubaPress correspondent in Villaclara, who is serving a year of hard labor
    without confinement for "crimes against state security" (see IFEX alerts of
    20 February 1998 and 18 June 1998)

    Appeals To

    Fidel Castro Ruz
    President of Cuba
    c/o United Nations Mission
    New York, NY
    Fax: +1 212 779 1697

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Committee to Protect Journalists
    330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
    New York, NY 10001
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 4659568
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