Cuban authorities must release blogger held for two months
“On 9 April, the same day that the authorities acceded to calls for dissident journalist Calixto Martínez's release, Santiesteban-Prats was transferred to Prison 1850 in the Havana suburb of San Miguel del Padrón and was subjected to a 'maximum-severity' regime of treatment.
“His detention is both cruel and absurd. The authorities are trying to make an example out of him, but they will never be able to prevent the population from expressing itself in diverse ways. We urge them to release him without delay. At the same time, we appeal to him to abandon his hunger strike.
“The Cuban government took over the rotating presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in January, but it has yet to honour its international obligations as regards human rights and fundamental freedoms. The other CELAC members should remind Cuba of this requirement.”
Arrested on 28 February to begin serving a five-year jail sentence, Santiesteban-Prats was placed in an isolation cell, without water or light, when he went on hunger strike following his transfer to Prison 1850.
Currently allowed to use the phone for only a few minutes a day, he reported on 22 April that prison guards had held him down and forced him to drink a filthy liquid that made him ill.
Santiesteban-Prats received the five-year jail sentence on trumped-up charges of “home violation” and “injuries” at the end of a summary trial on 8 December.
The winner of major literary prizes, he was arrested several times prior to the trial in connection with the political views he expressed. The harassment increased after he created his blog, The children no one wanted, in which he criticized the government.
One other news provider is currently detained in Cuba. It is Luis Antonio Torres, a reporter for the government newspaper Granma, who was arrested in 2011 and was sentenced in July 2012 to 14 years in prison on spying charges for which no evidence has ever been produced. Reporters Without Borders also calls for his rapid release.