14ymedio, Havana, November 13 — Independent journalist Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre was arrested this Tuesday after answering a police summons. The 14ymedio and La Hora de Cuba contributor remains detained in the cells of Villa Maria Luisa, run by State Security in the city of Camaguey, as relatives and colleagues confirmed to this newspaper.
This Monday, Fernández was verbally summoned by a State Security agent who arrived at his home on a motorcycle and didn’t identify himself. The journalist, who is also a religious activist, went to the summons with a backpack with some clothing and toiletries, out of fear that they were going to detain him.
Several colleagues waited outside the police station during Fernández’s interrogation, but the journalist was not allowed to communicate by phone with his wife or friends to clear up the situation that he was in.
Fernández’s wife, Yusleysi Gil, explained to this newspaper that residents of Nuevitas had confirmed to her that the police detained this Wednesday at six in the morning a man who gave his testimony for the report about the lack of electricity service in a community with several families. “They told me that that will be the witness they will use to accuse him.”
A lieutenant assured Fernández’s colleagues that the reporter was being investigated and that he would remain detained at the station for four days, until Friday. Only then will he have the right to see close family members, warned the official.
In October, Fernández reported that the political police were trying to take him to court for “usurpation of legal capacity” — that is operating a profession without a license* — under article 149 of the Penal Code. He made the claim after several residents of a town in Nuevitas whom he interviewed for a report were interrogated by State Security.
In July of this year Ricardo Fernández was detained for nine days and police gave him a warning letter for an alleged “illegal” stay in Havana (Cubans need a residence permit to live in Havana), which later the reporter managed to get withdrawn after showing that it was arbitrary since he was passing through the city and he had a bus ticket to transfer to Pinar del Rio.
The reporter, who lives in the city of Camaguey, was detained on that occasion when he was leaving the headquarters of the Ladies in White Movement in Havana heading to the domestic bus terminal. Fernández agreed with Ladies in White activist Berta Soler that he would make a phone call to confirm that he had arrived safely at the terminal, but he never called.
The independent journalist also collaborates with the organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) at that time condemned Cuban State Security’s detention of the journalist, while demanding his immediate release.
In a letter sent to the Ministry of the Interior of Cuba, vice-admiral Julio César Gandarilla Bermejo, the IAPA demanded the release of Fernández and warned that “keeping a person detained without the proper process, without a judicial order, and keeping his family and colleagues uninformed and in a state of anxiety about his whereabouts, constitutes a severe violation of civil rights, human rights, and, in this case, freedom of the press and the free exercise of the profession.”
*Translator’s note: Generally speaking professionals in Cuban cannot exercise a profession privately.
Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera
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