14ymedio, Havana, 10 February 2020 — Less than a year after Decree 370 went into effect, regulating the use of the Internet in Cuba, Iliana Hernández will be prosecuted for “disseminating, through the public data transmission networks, information contrary to the social interest.” Along with Boris González and Nancy Alfaya, hers is one of the first cases of independent reporters to whom this rule is intended to be applied.
Hernández has denounced the imposition of an illegally imposed fine of 3,000 Cuban pesos, which could double if she does not satisfy it before Thursday. In addition it is already official that her cell phone and her computer were confiscated, as she reported to 14ymedio.
At the police station they told her that this measure was under the scope of Decree Law 370 and that it had nothing to do with the crime of “reception” for which they intend to prosecute her.
“Yesterday a lady came from the fines office to very kindly tell me that if I did not pay the fine on February 13, it would be doubled to 6,000 pesos because a month has already passed. But the point is that I am in criminal proceedings now, I showed him them the bail and everything and they can’t condemn me twice for the same thing, I didn’t even know that about the fine because I didn’t sign anything at the station. The lady says she doesn’t understand it either but she tells me that the fine is there and I have to pay it,” the reporter explained.
On January 8, the police conducted a police search of Hernández’s house during which she was arrested and threatened. At the end of the search the officers confiscated several personal and other work items.
“They already took my phone and the computer under that law , they didn’t give me any receipt, which is totally illegal. I only know that my complaint is number 1305. And then they have taken my things it’s the same as if it were a case of receiving, ” she explained.
“I am going to denounce that, it is not going to be of any use because we live in a dictatorship, but for the record that there are no rights for anyone in this country. There is already too much abuse and one is totally helpless, they will not silence me ever, they have already done it to Nancy Alfaya, Boris González, they will not stop.”
On January 13, the reporter presented the authorities with several documents that give account of the unlawful seizure of her computer, cellphone and the other objects confiscated during the search, but in the police station the officers did not want to accept them.
“It is obvious that they do this because of my work with independent media, it is what they do with us, repress, always repress,” she denounced.
The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) called on the Government to immediately withdraw the accusations against the reporter and to have her work equipment returned.
“The Cuban authorities must immediately withdraw their false charges against journalist Iliana Hernández and stop threatening to file a criminal proceeding,” said Natalie Southwick, the coordinator of the CPJ Central and South America Program.
“Working for independent media and possessing basic equipment to practice journalism is not a crime. The Cuban authorities must return Hernández’s computer and telephone, and allow her to work freely,” Southwick said.
Since December 2018, Iliana Hernández has been a contributor to CiberCuba, and also presents live broadcasts on the networks of that portal to comment on the news.
Decree 370 establishes broad control by the Government over the internet. It does this through regulating the use of new technologies, greater supervision over wireless networks and strict limits for online content publishing. The sanctions include not only the fine, but also the confiscation of the equipment and means used, the removal of the license authorizing the provision of network administration services temporarily or permanently, and the closing of the facilities.
When Decree 370 went into effect it set off a broad condemnation by international organizations linked to freedom of expression and also numerous criticisms from activists and independent journalists. Especially, among those media that have taken advantage of the emergence of new technologies to create a news space parallel to the official press.
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