Miami, May 27, 2021 – Cuban authorities should release journalist Mary Karla Ares immediately and drop the criminal investigation into her work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, authorities transferred Ares to the Western Women’s Prison in the La Lisa municipality of Havana, after holding her in a police facility since her April 30 arrest, according to a report by the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP). Authorities are investigating her for criminal public disorder and “resistance,” according to that report.
“By transferring Mary Karla Ares to the Western Women’s Prison, Cuban authorities have escalated their unjust treatment of a journalist who is being punished simply for doing her job,” said CPJ Central and South America Senior Researcher Ana Cristina Núñez. “Authorities must release Ares immediately, drop their investigation into her work, and cease harassing and detaining independent journalists.”
Authorities arrested Ares while she was covering a protest on Facebook, as CPJ documented at the time. If charged and convicted, Ares could face up to five years in prison, according to that ICLEP report.
In January, authorities put the Western Women’s Prison under lockdown after an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility, according to news reports.
Today, CPJ joined the International Women’s Media Foundation, Article 19, and Cubalex rights groups in a joint statement calling for Ares’ release.