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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Cuban journalist gets one year in prison for crimes of resistance and disobedience



Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, a Cuban lawyer and journalist, received one year in prison for the crime of resistance and disobedience months after being detained and allegedly beaten by the political police.

On April 22, Quiñones was attempting to report on a trial for a pastor and his wife when he was detained and allegedly beaten by the political police, according to CubaNet, an outlet for which he writes. The journalist detailed his various injuries in a two-part article for the site.

Quiñones was released from detention after five days, with an open judicial process, according to CubaNet. The Military Prosecutor in Guantánamo said police accused of injuring him were not criminally responsible, according to Quiñones and the Pro Press Freedom Association of Cuba (APLP, for its initials in Spanish).

In May, authorities gave him the option “to pay a fine to close the case,” as he wrote for CubaNet. However, he refused and that led to his trial, the site said.

The journalist said he would appeal the sentence from the Municipal Tribune in Guantánamo, CubaNet reported. He can stay at home, but cannot leave the province.

Prior to the April 22 incident, Quiñones was required to request authorization to travel, as he explains in an article for CubaNet. Consequently, he was prevented from going to Havana in February and taken off a bus going to Cienfuegos on April 18, as he said.

The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) spoke out against the sentence.

“The fact that Roberto Quiñones is sentenced to prison for failing to pay a fine, while the police agents who beat and detained him for days receive no punishment, is outrageous,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ Deputy Executive Director.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the Cuban government to withdraw the “unfair charges” against the journalist.

“[RSF] deplores the growing hostility of the Cuban authorities toward the country’s independent press,” it wrote via Twitter.

The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) condemned the Cuban regime for the sentence against Quiñones.

“Nothing surprises us about the Cuban government, so accustomed to persecuting independent journalists in their quest to censor criticism, opinions and free information,” said María Elvira Domínguez, IAPA president, according to a release from the organization.



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