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Blogger arrested, sentenced to 20 months in prison

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami (April 26, 2010) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today denounced the conviction in Cuba of an independent blogger and the arrest of another journalist in separate incidents last week and called for the immediate release of all imprisoned journalists and an end to repression by the government.

On April 22, Cuba's political police arrested independent journalist and blogger Dania Virgen García ( http://daniavirgengarcia.blogspot.com ) whose blog, launched in January, reports on the violence and repression against other independent reporters on the Caribbean island. García is also a human rights activist who openly supports the Ladies in White movement, a group that the government has suppressed and prevented from demonstrating on several occasions.

García was taken to court the day after her arrest and sentenced to one year and eight months in prison on charges that had not yet been made known. The president of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy Brigade 2506, Segundo Miranda, brought the fact to light, while Cuba's official press - the newspapers "Granma" and "Juventud Rebelde" - did not report on it.

IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper "Diario Las Américas", declared, "We continue seeing the same story of restriction of freedom of expression in Cuba," adding, "while we wait for word on the fate of the famous blogger Yoani Sánchez, who was harassed on a number of occasions, other women and men are being persecuted by a government that threatens, restricts, censors, tries and convicts offhandedly."

With the imprisonment of García, the only woman to date, there are 26 journalists behind bars in Cuba. Many are in poor health, a fact which has set off protests calling for their release; independent reporter Guillermo Fariñas, who has been on hunger strike for several weeks, is among those held prisoner.

Arrested in Holguín on the morning of April 24 was Yosvani Anzardo Hernández, editor of the independent newspaper "Candonga". His wife, Lourdes María Yen Rodríguez, reported that two State Security officers came to their home in the town of San Germán and arrested her husband. The family does not know the motive for his arrest. In September 2009 Hernández spent 15 days in jail after his home was raided and his electronic equipment seized.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the "San Antonio Express-News", Texas, repeated the organization's call for the unconditional release of imprisoned journalists, in particular those who for humanitarian reasons should have their rights respected.

The IAPA lists the following 26 imprisoned journalists: Convicted in 2003 Ricardo González Alfonso, Víctor Rolando Arroyo, Normando Hernández González, Julio César Gálvez, Adolfo Fernández Sainz, Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Mijaíl Barzaga Lugo, Pedro Argüelles Morán, Pablo Pacheco Ávila, Alfredo Pulido López, Fabio Prieto Llorente, Iván Hernández Carrillo, José Luis Garía Paneque, Juan Carlos Herrera, Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, José Ubaldo Izquierdo, Omar Ruiz Hernández, Léster Luis González Pentón and Alfredo Felipe Fuentes; in 2006 Alberto Gil Triay and Raymundo Perdigón Brito; in 2007 Ramón Velázquez Toranso and Oscar Sánchez Madan; in 2009 Alberto Santiago Du Bouchet and in 2010 Dania Virgen García.
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