Miami, June 22, 2021 — Cuban authorities must immediately release journalist Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, drop any charges against him, and allow the press to report freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On June 15, agents from the Cuban Revolutionary Police detained Valle when he presented himself at the Zapata y C police office in Havana, and then transferred him to Villa Marista, the headquarters of the political police, according to news reports.
Authorities had summoned Valle to the police office to allegedly close a 2020 contempt investigation, according to those reports. In a statement, the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP), a local press freedom organization, alleged that authorities “misleadingly” issued that summons in order to detain him.
Valle covers social and political affairs in Cuba on his YouTube channel, Delibera, which has about 7,600 subscribers. The day before his arrest, he had published a video reporting on pro-democracy leaflets being thrown off a building in Havana.
“Cuban authorities must release journalist Lárazo Yuri Valle Roca at once, and stop arbitrarily imprisoning members of the press,” said CPJ Central and South America Senior Researcher Ana Cristina Núñez. “Though censorship continues to be the rule in Cuba, journalists have the right to continue reporting, and to do so without facing retaliation.”
ICLEP General Manager Normando Hernández told CPJ via messaging app, “The summons and the supposed investigation for contempt were made up, it was all a trap to lure and detain him.”
He added that he believed Valle was detained because he had published the video featuring the pro-democracy leaflets, saying, “[he] went ahead and published the reporting, and then he was immediately summoned.”
Valles has been held without access to a lawyer or his family, who have filed a habeas corpus petition before the Supreme Tribunal, according to those news reports. The petition is still pending, Hernández told CPJ.
CPJ emailed the Cuban National Revolutionary Police and the Ministry of Interior for comment, but did not receive any replies.