CPJ calls out Spain

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called out Spain and is urging the Spanish government to pressure the Cuban dictatorship to release imprisoned journalists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter Wednesday to the Spanish government urging it to persuade Cuban authorities to fulfill a promise to release all of the reporters jailed in a March 2003 crackdown on the opposition.

As “a key party to the agreement to release the prisoners by November 2010,” Spain should “hold President Raul Castro to his word,” the New York-based CPJ said in a message addressed to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

“The extended delay in their (the journalists) release not only undermines Cuba’s credibility; it erodes Spain’s grounds for calling on the European Union states to normalize relations with Cuba,” according to the CPJ.

The organization recalled that on July 7, following negotiations between the Castro government and the Catholic Church, Cuba pledged to free within four months the 52 members of the “Group of 75” dissidents arrested in 2003 who remained behind bars.

“Your government played an important role in facilitating those talks,” the CPJ reminded Zapatero, adding that then-Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said ‘the agreement with the Cuban authorities is that all political prisoners will be released from prison.'”

“However, with nine of the 52 political prisoners still behind bars three months after the deadline for their release, the Cuban government has so far failed to fulfill its commitment,” the CPJ said.

It added that, according to reports from the reporters’ relatives, the dissidents who remain imprisoned have refused exile in Spain as a condition of their release.

Last Friday, Cuba allowed Guido Sigler – also rounded up and sentenced to a lengthy prison term in the 2003 crackdown – to remain on the island after his release, the CPJ said.

While hailing the “positive development,” the CPJ insisted that Raul Castro “should respect his commitment to release all political prisoners without exile as a condition.”