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Castro Regime's Treatment, Cuban Journalist

Press Group Protests Castro Regime's Treatment of Cuban Journalist

Also demands unconditional release of all jailed Cuban dissidents

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- An international press freedom advocacy group has expressed great concern about the plight of Cuban independent journalist Oscar Mario González Pérez, who still is awaiting trial more than 50 days after the regime of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro arrested him July 22 in Havana.

In a September 12 statement, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said González has been held in four different police stations since his arrest and "still does not know what will become of him."

The group asked if "this a new method the Cuban authorities are using to break a dissident? It is just as absurd as arrest without good reason and constitutes harassment, especially as the victim is a 61-year-old man in frail health."

Reporters Without Borders reiterated its call for the unconditional release of González and "all the other dissidents who have been unjustly imprisoned" in Cuba. Press advocacy groups say at least 20 journalists remain in Cuban prisons since the Castro regime launched a March 2003 crackdown on Cuban dissidents.

González, of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro independent news agency, was arrested as part of a round up of 33 dissidents, said Reporters Without Borders. Some 24 of those dissidents since have been released, while González and two others have been charged under a Cuban measure, called Law 88, that claims to protect "Cuba's national independence and economy." González and two other dissidents face up to 20 years in prison.

Reporters Without Borders calls Cuba the world's "second-biggest prison for the press," after China.

Another freedom-of-expression advocacy group, the London-based International PEN, a worldwide association of writers, has said it is "particularly concerned" about the Castro regime's charges against González. Recent experience in Cuba, said the group, "indicates that those accused of violating" Cuba's Law 88 "are given a summary trial before being pronounced guilty and sentenced harshly."

International PEN said it "repudiates the detention" of González, and called for the journalist's immediate release and the dropping of all charges against him.

Human rights violations in Cuba also are reported in the U.S. State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -- 2004. The report said the Cuban government denies its citizens freedom of speech, press, assembly and association, and closely monitors domestic and international journalists through physical and electronic surveillance.

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