New York, May 30, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention of independent Cuban journalist Armando Betancourt who was arrested a week ago while covering the evictions of dozens of families from their homes in the central city of Camagüey, sources told CPJ.
On May 23, authorities forcefully evicted families allegedly occupying homes illegally, according to local sources. Betancourt, a reporter for the news agency Nueva Prensa Cubana in Camagüey, was arrested along with several people who were protesting the evictions, a relative told CPJ. The journalist did not participate in the protests, according to several sources.
At the time of the arrest, Betancourt identified himself as a journalist, sources told CPJ. The journalist handed over his notes before he was pushed into a truck and taken into custody, they said
The journalist is being held at a local police station on the outskirts of Camagüey, CPJ sources said. Authorities confirmed the detention to a family member on May 24, but relatives have not been allowed to visit him, a relative said. Police told Betancourt’s family that the journalist would be charged with aggravated public disturbance and could be sentenced to prison.
“We are outraged by the arrest of our colleague who was arbitrarily detained solely for doing his job,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call on Cuban authorities to immediately release Betancourt and the other 24 journalists who are currently imprisoned.”