14ymedio, Havana, 21 July 2019 — The independent journalist and 14ymedio collaborator Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre was released this Sunday after nine days in detention. The police issued a warning letter regarding his “illegal” stay* in Havana, which the reporter refused to sign, he told 14ymedio
In conversation with this newspaper, minutes after being released, Fernández said that after being freed he had passed through the house of his colleague Henry Constantin, director of the La Hora de Cuba publication, with which he also collaborates. “I’m going to run to my house to see my daughter, I’m crazy to see her,” he added.
The reporter believes that the warning letter that the police issued to him is “arbitrary” since he was not “even 24 hours” in the capital. Upon release he was given an official summons for tomorrow, Monday, at 9:00 am.
On Friday morning, Fernández had been transferred from the El Vivac de Calabazar detention center, south of Havana, to a police station in the city of Camagüey, where he resides.
The reporter was arrested last Friday in Havana when he left the headquarters of the Ladies in White Movement to go to the national bus terminal. Fernandez arranged with activist Berta Soler to make a phone call to confirm that he had arrived safely at the terminal, but never called.
The independent journalist also collaborates with the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) organization.
“Violations of freedom of religion or belief have increased in Cuba in the last six months, and Ricardo has dedicated himself to traveling throughout the country, often with great personal sacrifice, sleeping in bus stations and skipping meals, to document these cases and offer solidarity to the victims. We ask the authorities to release him immediately,” said Anna Lee Stangl, head of Defense of Religious Freedom at CSW.
Last Tuesday, The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) condemned the journalist’s arrest by Cuban State Security, while demanding his immediate release.
In a letter sent to the Interior Minister of Cuba, Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla Bermejo, the IAPA demanded the release of Fernández, detained since July 12. They also requested that the reason for his detention be reported.
In the correspondence signed by the president of the IAPA, María Elvira Domínguez, from El País, Colombia and the president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, from La Silla Rota, Mexico, it was stated that “keep a a person detained without due process, without a court order and keeping their family and colleagues uninformed and in a state of distress, 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: Residence in Havana is restricted and Cubans from elsewhere must have formal permission to live there.
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