In Cuba, one reporter is freed and 24 others are still jailed

New York, August 9, 2006—Independent journalist Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández was released on Saturday after a year in prison on a spurious charge of “disrespecting” a local police chief. The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Cuban authorities to free the other 24 journalists imprisoned throughout the island.

Du Bouchet was released on Saturday night after completing his sentence, his wife, Bárbara Pérez, told CPJ today. Pérez said that her husband was well and, according to international reports, the journalist said he was ready to resume his work.

Du Bouchet was detained on August 6, 2005, while on a reporting trip to the town of Artemisa, 38 miles (60 kilometers) from Havana. Du Bouchet was summarily tried on a charge of “disrespecting” the local chief of police and resisting arrest, and he was sentenced to one year in prison. His family learned of the conviction only after he smuggled a note out of prison.

Du Bouchet did not have access to a lawyer before or during the trial. His family has said the charges were fabricated and that his trial was “a sham.” Du Bouchet had drawn the ire of authorities a few months earlier, when he covered the congress of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society. The two-day gathering, unprecedented in Cuba, brought together 200 opposition activists and guests in May 2005 to discuss ways to create democracy in Cuba.

“We’re relieved that our colleague Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández is free and well, but his incarceration was a terrible injustice,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “Today, 24 other independent Cuban journalists are behind bars unjustly for expressing their views. We demand Cuban authorities erase this blot and release all of the imprisoned journalists immediately.”