For Immediate Release: November 21, 2006
Human Rights First welcomed the release November 20 of Cuban journalist Oscar Mario González Pérez, who had been held without trial since his arrest in July 2005.
Last week, the New York-based advocacy group mounted a campaign for González’s release, following reports from his wife that his health was drastically deteriorating in prison and that he was being denied medical care. More than 1,000 Human Rights First supporters sent emails and letters to Cuban authorities urging that González be freed.
Since his detention, González had suffered from serious health problems that were exacerbated by poor prison conditions and medical neglect. Prison authorities had repeatedly denied knowledge of any charges against him and had refused to provide his lawyer with information about the indictment or possible trial.
Authorities gave no reason for his release.
González, 62, of the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro independent news agency, was arrested in 2005 along with 33 others as they prepared to attend a demonstration in front of the French Embassy in Havana.
In his writings, González had denounced the lack of free expression in Cuba and the government’s systematic violations of the basic rights of Cubans. Before his release, he was one of 24 journalists currently imprisoned in Cuba and one of more than 300 individuals detained because they challenged official policy or spoke out about systemic human rights violations.
Human Rights First called on the Cuban authorities to free all those currently imprisoned because they expressed opinions different from the official government view or because they sought to defend and promote the basic rights of Cubans.