CPJ appeals for release of jailed journalist

New York, February 8, 2000 – The Committee to Protect Journalists continued its campaign to win freedom for jailed Cuban journalist Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández by delivering 312 signed advocacy cards calling for his release to the Cuba Interests Section in Washington this weekend. The cards were sent by courier on February 4, and signed for the next day. Because the United States and Cuba have no diplomatic relations, the Interests Section carries out consular duties.

In a letter to President Fidel Castro Ruz accompanying the advocacy cards, CPJ board chairman Gene Roberts wrote, “Díaz Hernández was sent to jail and sentenced to four years in prison merely for doing his job as a journalist. In recognition of his commitment, CPJ awarded Díaz Hernández its 1999 International Press Freedom Award. Since he is in jail, however, he was unable to attend the awards dinner on November 23. The guests in attendance signed the enclosed cards, which call on Your Excellency to release Díaz Hernández as well as the other three journalists who are currently in prison in Cuba in reprisal for their work. I join them in making this appeal.”

Díaz Hernández, the executive director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, has been imprisoned since he was convicted of the Cuban crime of “dangerousness” on January 18, 1999. For eight months he was held in solitary confinement.