Cuban journalist detained by ICE is seeking asylum out of fear for his life

Press freedom organizations are calling attention to the case of independent Cuban journalist Serafín Morán Santiago who was detained in the U.S. after arriving to seek asylum in the country.

Morán Santiago, 40, arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border on April 13 and gave his documentation to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but was then taken to a detention center in south Texas where he has been for the past four months, according to FUNDAMEDIOS US, which is supporting the journalist along with Reporters Without Borders (RSF, for its initials in French).

A bail hearing has been set for the journalist for Aug. 24, according to what María Fernanda Egas with FUNDAMEDIOS US told the Knight Center.

Morán Santiago has said that he fears for his life.

The journalist said authorities targeted him for reporting on political issues that included alleged police misconduct and human rights, according to RSF.

Morán Santiago, who has worked for media including Univision 23, Telemundo, Primavera Digital, TVMarti and others, told FUNDAMEDIOS US that he lost count of the times he’s been detained as a journalist.

Cuban state security officers allegedly abducted and beat him in June 2016 after his reports criticized government actions, RSF reported. In September 2017, he was allegedly arrested and had equipment confiscated when he went to interview a leader of a socialist dissident movement, according to the organization.

According to an interview with FUNDAMEDIOS US, he said that he had relationships with human rights activists before his journalistic work began.

As pointed out in a previous report by McClatchy reporter Franco Ordoñez, two years ago Morán likely would not have had to apply for asylum in the U.S. and would have been granted entry under the previous “wet foot, dry foot” policies in the country.