Cuban journalist Camila Acosta is being held in pretrial detention under house arrest for alleged incitement to commit a crime. Police arrested Acosta on July 12, 2021, after she covered widespread antigovernment protests in Havana, and held her in prison for four days before releasing her to house arrest.
Acosta is a correspondent for the Spanish daily ABC in Havana and is a contributor to the Cuban digital outlet Cubanet, the journalist told CPJ via messaging app. She also shares news and commentary on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, which have about 7,000 and 11,000 followers respectively. Acosta covers a range of topics in Cuba, including politics, human rights, and social issues, she said.
Officers with the National Revolutionary Police detained Acosta as she was leaving her home in Havana with her father to run a personal errand. They took her to that police force’s Fourth Station before moving her later that day moved her to the Tenth Station, also in Havana, according to news reports and the journalist.
At the time of her detention, officers did not notify Acosta of any charges against her, telling her only that she was under arrest and placing her in the police car, she told CPJ. She spent four days in prison and was questioned multiple times by state security officers, who asked about her journalism, including who she worked for and how much she was paid, according to news reports and Acosta.
She was released to house arrest at her home in the Plaza de la Revolución Municipality on July 16, and as of November 2021 remains under investigation for incitement, she said. Following her arrest, Acosta was also being investigated for alleged public disorder, but at a meeting at police headquarters on November 29, she was told that that investigation had been dropped, according to Cubanet.
If charged and convicted of incitement, she could face up to one year in prison, according to Cuba’s penal code.
The day before her arrest, Acosta covered widespread antigovernment protests in Cuba for ABC and reported live on Facebook for Cubanet.
Demonstrations calling for greater personal freedoms and an end to the country’s communist government, described as Cuba’s largest in decades, began on July 11 in the city of San Antonio de los Baños, and expanded throughout the country before mostly ending by July 15. Authorities detained at least 10 other journalists between July 11 and 17 as the government cracked down on protests in multiple cities, as documented by CPJ.
Acosta’s lawyer, who had access to the prosecutor’s office file on the investigation, told her that two witnesses, including a police officer, reported seeing her participate in the protests, allegedly chanting antigovernment slogans and inciting others, the journalist told CPJ, saying she denied allegations that she participated in the protest.
Acosta said she was unaware of any scheduled trial date in her case as of late 2021.
Acosta told CPJ that she cannot leave her home except to see her lawyer, for medical reasons, or to buy groceries. She said she did not have any health issues.
Security agents stationed outside her home ask her where she is going, allow her to leave only for the allowed reasons, and follow her until she returns home, she told CPJ.
On November 14, the day before anti-government protests were scheduled in Cuba, an increased number of police and security agents were stationed at Acosta’s home, including several dressed as civilians and others in patrol cars and on motorcycles, she told CPJ.
The agents barred her from leaving her home at all and stopped and questioned her visitors, asking about their relationship to Acosta, the journalist said.
After about three days, the number of agents stationed at her home returned to the pre-protest levels; Acosta continues to be held under house arrest as of November 2021, she said.
CPJ emailed the National Revolutionary Police and the Ministry of the Interior for comment, but did not receive any responses.