14ymedio, Havana, 23 May 2017 — Raúl Velázquez, executive director of the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP) was released last Friday after being held for 72 hours in the second unit of the People’s Revolutionary Police (PNR) in Santiago de Cuba, as confirmed Monday by the agency through a press release.
The journalist had been arrested on Tuesday 16 May when he was sleeping at the home of the #Otro18 (Another 2018) activist María Mercedez Benítez. According to the Institute, Velázquez had his cell phone confiscated and was photographed from various angles by the State Security before they opened a “criminal file for the alleged crimes of subversion, propaganda of illegal print materials and counterrevolutionary plans.”
The ICLEP claims that the arrest of its executive director was not the only one that took place against people engaged in information dissemination, since it coincided with the arrest of four other citizen journalists.
In Colón, Matanzas province, Alberto Corzo, an independent reporter and administrative, monitoring and evaluation director of ICLEP, was threatened with imprisonment for his information work, and was detained for approximately three hours during which time he was reminded that he was under indictment for the alleged offense of contempt against a police collaborator.
In the first 20 days of this month, the political police have committed 13 repressive acts against citizen journalists working on ICLEP media
A day later, on Wednesday 17 May in Pinar del Rio, the citizen journalist Ivis Yanet Borrego was summoned and interrogated for three hours “in a disrespectful and rude way,” according to the institute. Borrego is the director of the publication Panorama Pinareño.
“Officials banned the journalist from continuing to work for ICLEP and assured her that they would retaliate against all the journalists until they ‘disappeared’ from the face of the earth,” the statement said.
On Thursday, 18 May, two additional Pinar del Rio citizen journalists, Ernesto Morales Estrada and Calixto E. Miranda Landeiro, were threatened with imprisonment if they continued to collaborate with ICLEP.
According to the organization, in the first 20 days of this month, the political police have committed 13 repressive acts against citizen journalists working with ICLEP media.