Cuban journalist Fariñas detained by police for second time in 24 hours

Dissident journalist Guillermo Fariñas – famous worldwide for hunger striking for 135-days before Cuban released more than 50 political prisoners – was arrested for the second time in less than 24 hours for demonstrating in front of the jail where other dissidents were still being held, Reuters reports. He was freed after five hours, The Associated Press reports.

Fariñas, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, was first arrested after demonstrating against the living conditions of other imprisoned dissidents. Read more about his Jan. 26 arrest in this Knight Center post.

After being released the first time, he publicly alleged that the Cuban government was using short-term arrests to “intimidate" the people. “Before arrests were long-term, now they are brief,” he said, as quoted by ABC.

Fariñas’ arrests coincide with a report released by the dissident Cuban Human Rights Commission, which warned of the increase in short-term arrests in 2010. The organization said last year there were 2,074 politically-motivated arrests, double the 870 in 2009, of which “the great majority” were “for several hours or days,” AFP adds.

Friday, Jan. 28, marks the 158th birthday of Cuban independence hero José Martí, and Fariñas plans to demonstrate in his honor. "I told them [the police] we planned to go out with flowers for Marti and they said they would arrest us for a third time," Fariñas told Reuters after his second release.

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» Reporters without Borders (Press freedom prize winner held twice in 24 hours)

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.

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