CPJ concerned about the health of jailed independent journalist in Cuba

New York, February 16, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about a report of deteriorating health of independent journalist Alfredo Pulido López, who has been imprisoned in Cuba for almost four years.

Pulido López, 46, is suffering from serious breathing and stomach ailments, his wife Rebeca Rodríguez Souto told CPJ.

The journalist is receiving medical care in prison, but his wife said the living conditions are unbearable. According to Rodríguez Souto, Pulido López is being held in a room with at least 100 hardened prisoners in Camagüey’s Kilo 7 Prison, where he was transferred in August 2004. Rodríguez Souto said that her husband has witnessed continuous acts of violence among the inmates and fears for his life.

CPJ’s attempts to reach Kilo 7 Prison in Camagüey were unsuccessful.

Pulido López, director of the Camagüey-based independent news agency El Mayor, was imprisoned during a massive March 2003 crackdown against the Cuban independent press. He was tried under Article 91 of the Cuban penal code for “acting against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state,” and sentenced in April 2003 to 14 years in prison.

Rodríguez Souto told CPJ she has repeatedly requested Cuban authorities to release her husband on medical parole but has not yet received a response. She said her husband is severely depressed with a complete loss of appetite that has resulted in the loss of at least 20 lbs. since his incarceration.

“We hold the Cuban government responsible for the welfare of Pulido López and urge it to release him along with all the other journalists who should never have been imprisoned in the first place,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

Cuba continues to be one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists—second only to China—with 24 independent journalists currently imprisoned. Twenty two of these journalists were jailed in the March 2003 crackdown.