Independent journalist released after two years in jailCPJ Press Freedom Award Winner Held for “Dangerousness”

New York, January 18, 2001 — Independent journalist Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández was released from a Cuban prison yesterday, after serving two years of a four-year term for practicing independent journalism. He had been convicted on the charge of “dangerousness.”

Díaz Hernández, the executive director of the independent news service Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes (CAPI), was released without explanation into the care of his parents, and given a document stating that the rest of his sentence had been suspended. He was a recipient of the 1999 International Press Freedom Award, presented by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

In a letter sent to Fidel Castro today, CPJ executive director Ann Cooper welcomed the news that Díaz Hernández had finally been released, but expressed concern that he could be jailed again if he returns to work as an independent journalist. [Read the letter] Cooper also called on Castro to release two other imprisoned Cuban journalists immediately.

In her detailed letter, Cooper urged the Cuban president to honor international law and release Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, founder of the Línea Sur Press news agency, who has been in jail since 1997, and Manuel Antonio González Castellanos, correspondent for the independent news agency CubaPress, who has been in jail since 1998.

“While we are relieved that our colleague Díaz Hernández has been released from prison,” Cooper wrote, “we remain outraged that he was jailed in the first place.”