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Independent journalist briefly detained, threatened with expulsion from Havana

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 6 June 2008 IAPA press release:

Action against independent journalist in Cuba brings IAPA protest

Miami (June 6, 2008) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned the Cuban government for the arrest of and threats made to independent newsman Carlos Serpa Maceira, reminded it to observe tolerance of press freedom and called on it to free 25 journalists still imprisoned.

In a telephone call to the IAPA Serpa Maceira, of the Sindical Press news agency and Cuba correspondent of the Sweden-based magazine Misceláneas de Cuba, said he was arrested at 5:00 a.m. today at a house in the Old Havana district of the Cuban capital by two State Security agents and a National Police officer who took him to a police station, where he was charged with engaging in "provocative and mercenary acts under the guidance of the United States Interests Section in Cuba."

The chairman of IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, declared, "It is about time that the government of Cuba called a halt to its reactionary methods and put into practice tolerance of freedom of the press and free speech. One of the first steps should be the release of the 25 independent journalists that remain in prison for exercising their right to express an opinion."

Serpa Maceira reported that he was ordered by officials to stop working as a journalist and warned that he would be sent to the Island of Youth, where he was born, because he lacked permission to live in the Cuban capital.

He also sent an e-mail reporting on what had happened to him and declaring that he planned to continue working as a journalist. "They issued me an official warning, which I refused to sign," he said. "In it they accuse me of covering an aborted demonstration in Havana on June 4 for the 19th anniversary of China's Tianamen Square incidents, claiming my act was a counter-revolutionary provocation." He added that the arrest was due to his having broadcast his report live on Miami-based Radio Martí radio station.

For further information on previous harassment of Serpa Maceira: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/71114

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