Cuban journalist Henry Constantín Ferreiro was declared free of charges after being accused of enemy propaganda and being held for almost two days.
Constantín Ferreiro, editor of magazine La Hora de Cuba, was arrested on Feb. 20 along with 14ymedio journalist Sol García Basulto while on his way from Camagüey to Havana to cover a ceremony in remembrance of a late opposition politician.
García Basulto was released, but Constantín Ferreiro was detained for a day and a half, according to the Inter American Press Association (IAPA). During that detention, his captors accused him of the crime of enemy propaganda and bullied him to leave the country, the organization said.
Some politicians and officials, including Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, were barred from traveling to Havana for the ceremony the journalists intended to cover. Almagro was being given the award in the honor of deceased opposition politician Oswaldo Payá.
IAPA said Constantín Ferreiro was declared free of charges after appearing before the prosecutor’s office in Camagüey on Feb. 27. He was there to formally hear the charges against him.
On that day, the journalist posted on Facebook, “Here I am, after almost an hour of very clear threats of confinement, declared free, without charges. Free in Cuba, in quotes, and among Cubans who are not yet free. That’s why we go on. But right now in my heart I cannot thank enough my superfamily, friends and colleagues here and there, and so many who worried. A huge hug, to everyone.”
IAPA had called on the international community to intercede after Constantín Ferreiro was released from detention. IAPA President Matt Sanders sent a letter to the U.S. White House media affairs director to ask President Donald Trump to intercede.
The organization said alleged evidence against Constantín Ferreiro included a copy of La Hora de Cuba “whose content included an article about the control of cattle by the State, some stories on the historical and cultural heritage of Camagüey and an opinion piece that said Raúl Castro would be turning into a good dictator.”
The organization also said Constantín Ferreo has been the subject of aggressions, including threats and interrogations, on nine occasions between 2016 and 2017. His family, journalists and sources linked to the magazine have also been threatened and arbitrarily detained, it added.
In addition to editing La Hora de Cuba, Constantín Ferreiro is also regional vice chairman for Cuba of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information. He was elected to the post in December 2016 and replaced Yoani Sánchez of digital site 14ymedio.
At the time, EFE reported that Constantín Ferreiro said the main challenges of the position would be “to survive the sharp teeth that come out with the word of free journalism in the island, and to defend – more – this mistreated and essential thing that is called freedom of the press.”
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.