Cuban Authorities Must Release Journalist Accused of “Disrespect” Towards Castro

Press Release
January 30, 2013

Cuban Authorities Must Release Journalist Accused of “Disrespect” Towards Castro

Human Rights Group Names Cuban Journalist Calixto Martínez, a Prisoner of Conscience

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(New York) – Authorities in Cuba must immediately release imprisoned Cuban journalist Calixto Martínez, accused of “controversial” reporting and “disrespect” toward Castro, Amnesty International said today as it named him a prisoner of conscience.

Martínez, a journalist with the unofficial news agency Hablemos Press, was arrested by the Cuban Revolutionary Police on September 16, 2012 near Havana airport. He was investigating allegations that medicine provided by the World Health Organization to fight a cholera outbreak was being kept at the airport, as the Cuban government allegedly tried to downplay the severity of the outbreak.

While at the airport, Martínez telephoned his colleagues at Hablemos Press to inform them that he had taken photographs and interviewed airport workers. He was arrested shortly after.

When Martínez asked the reason for his arrest, the police told him they were merely following orders.

Despite never being formally charged or facing trial, police reportedly accused Martínez of “disrespect” towards President Raúl Castro and his brother Fidel.

The Cuban state maintains a total monopoly on television, radio, print, internet service providers, and other electronic means of communication.

“The imprisonment of Calixto Martínez goes to show that authorities in Cuba are far from accepting that journalists have a role to play in society, including by investigating possible wrongdoings,” said Guadalupe Marengo, deputy director of the Americas at Amnesty International.

Prior to his September arrest, Martínez had been detained without charge on several occasions in 2012, always in relation to his work as a journalist.

There are currently two prisoners of conscience in Cuba.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.