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Cuban journalist imprisoned for reporting on pastors' trial now released

by Tola Mbakwe
Photo Credit: Instituto Patmos - Banner image
Photo Credit: Instituto Patmos

A Cuban journalist and lawyer has been released from prison in Guantánamo, Cuba after spending nearly a year in prison for his work reporting on the trial of two Cuban pastors. 

Roberto Quiñones Haces (pictured above) was imprisoned last September on charges of "disobedience" and "resistance" because of his work as an independent journalist. During his imprisonment, numerous international human rights organisations, including Article 19, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and Amnesty International, called for his release.

According to persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the 63-year-old was reportedly targeted in order to prevent him from covering the trial of Cuban pastors Ramón Rigal and Adya Expósito Leyva. 

The couple, both residents of Guantánamo City, were sentenced to prison last April after they chose to remove their children from the government-run school system. They said they were concerned about teacher-led bullying of their children due to their religious beliefs. The couple also cited the uncompromising secularist school curriculum as a reason to pull their kids out. 

Pastor Expósito Leyva was released on 29th March, after serving over 11 months of an 18 month sentence. Her husband Ramón was released on 25th June after serving 14 months of a two-year sentence. CSW said for much of his imprisonment, Pastor Rigal was placed in a maximum-security unit where he was denied conditional freedom and was permitted only one visit per month.

CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: "While CSW welcomes the release of Roberto Quiñones Haces, and pastors Ramón Rigal and Adya Expósito Leyva, they should never have been imprisoned. 

"The situation for human rights in Cuba remains highly concerning and we call on the government of Cuba to ensure full respect for all human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. We continue to call for the release of all remaining prisoners of conscience, who must be permitted to enjoy their freedom without fear of further harassment or arrest."

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