Journalists held for three days on charges of immigrant smuggling

New York, September 20, 2000 — State security agents detained Jesús and Jadir Hernández Hernández, two brothers who report for the independent news agency Habana Press, for over three days in a small town outside Havana, according to foreign press reports and CPJ sources in Cuba.

Early in the morning on September 15, agents from the government’s Technical Department of Investigations (DTI) detained Jesús and Jadir and took them to the DTI offices in San José de Las Lajas, near Havana. The agents confiscated a typewriter, an electronic organizer, and manuscript articles written by the brothers, and accused them of smuggling Cuban emigrants to the United States.

During intense interrogations on September 16 and 17, DTI agents also threatened to prosecute Jesús and Jadir for “contempt” and “spreading false news,” and to bring additional charges under the Law for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy (also known as Law 88).

Law 88 mandates prison terms of up to 20 years for anyone found guilty of “supporting, facilitating, or collaborating with the objectives of the Helms-Burton Law [U.S. legislation that imposes sanctions on foreign companies trading with Cuba], the embargo, and the economic war against our people, with the goal of ruining internal order, destabilizing the country, and liquidating the socialist state and Cuba’s independence.”

Independent journalists contacted by CPJ contended that Cuban authorities had detained the journalists because of their work, and that all the charges, including immigrant smuggling, were fabricated in order to intimidate them.

Jesús and Jadir were released on September 18 in the afternoon.