Various news outlets, citing a post from the pro-government Cuban blog Yohandry, are reporting that prominent Cuban blogger and dissident Yoani Sanchez has been detained in the city of Bayamo, along with her husband, Reinaldo Escobar.
Bayamo is the site of the trial of Spanish politician Angel Carromero, who has been charged with negligent homicide in the death of well-known Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya. (Paya and a colleague died in July, when a car that Carromero was driving crashed in Bayamo.) According to Yohandry, Sanchez was planning a “media show” in the context of coverage of the trial.
Up to this point, the Cuban government has not issued any statement and there has been no mention of Sánchez being detained in Granma, the state newspaper.
In general, independent journalists and critics of the Cuban government continue to face difficulties reporting from Cuba. Yoani Sanchez, in fact, had only recently filed a complaint before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, saying that she had been the victim of arbitrary detentions and censorship of her blog. According to Amnesty International, “independent journalists in Cuba work constantly under threat of arbitrary detentions, intimidation and harassment by the authorities.”
WOLA calls on the Cuban government to immediately confirm whether or not Yoani Sanchez and her husband are detained, and, if so, to make public the charges against them.
WOLA also urges Cuba to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to visit Cuba and produce a report on the state of freedom of expression in Cuba.
UPDATE October 8: Ms. Sanchez and her husband were released late on October 5 after being held for 30 hours.
(Photo by Cristian Eslava)