Cuban journalist under house arrest will file formal complaint before prosecutor’s office

Independent Cuban journalist Sol García Basulto, editor of the magazine La Hora de Cuba, will file a formal complaint before the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Camagüey against the precautionary measure of house arrest imposed on her July 24.

García Basulto told the Knight Center: “I talked to two lawyers from collective law firms and neither of them wanted to represent me. I have been advised to file a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office.”

Since March 20, García Basulto and fellow journalist Henry Constantín Ferreiro, also of La Hora de Cuba, have been accused by the Cuban State of the crime of “encroachment of legal capacity,” according to 14ymedio.

On July 24 at 10 a.m., the journalist, also correspondent of the Cuban site 14ymedio, was called by police to the Criminal Investigations and Operations Unit of the Ministry of the Interior in Camagüey to be informed about her case. She was detained at the police station during the interview with the first lieutenant Yusniel Pérez Torres.

At the end of the meeting on that day, Pérez Torres placed García Basulto under house arrest.

According to García Basulto, the crime of encroachment of legal capacity is part of an article of the Cuban penal code with which she and Constantin Ferreiro have been charged for exercising journalism without permission from the State. "Then, because we are not journalists with official media, it is assumed, according to them, we can not do journalism. Nor do we have a journalism degree, which would be impossible considering the political profile of Cuban universities," she told the Knight Center.

The Cuban government accused them of this crime for conducting interviews on the streets and presenting and publishing news as journalists "without being qualified for it."

Constantín Ferreiro, who is also the regional vice-president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), has not received any precautionary measures of house arrest on the charge he was given in March along with García Basulto.

However, on Feb. 21, 2017, he was accused by the government of the crime of enemy propaganda, and was interrogated by Cuban police forces and detained in a police delegation for a day and a half. At the time, Constantín Ferreiro was accompanied by García Basulto with whom he was preparing to travel from Camagüey to Havana to cover a ceremony in remembrance of a late politician who was opposed to the Castro regime. Both were questioned on that occasion by the police.

On the charge of encroachment of legal capacity, García Basulto told the Knight Center that over a month ago they filed a complaint in the Public Prosecutor's Office on behalf of Constantín Ferreiro, "because it is a joint thing that we share, for the crime of encroachment of legal capacity. [So far] we have received no response to the complaint, that is, quite useless."

The IAPA expressed its resounding rejection of the repression of press freedom in Cuba. Roberto Rock, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, extended solidarity to his Cuban colleagues, who, he said, are “continuing to suffer the terrible consequences of what a regulating society implies and in the case of García Basulto and Constantín Ferreiro they face the possibility of imprisonment for exercising their right to gather information and disseminate it through a news media outlet, a human right protected by numerous international treaties."

The journalist also told the Knight Center that she will file a complaint against the official Yusniel Pérez who applied the precautionary measure of house arrest. "There is also an international complaint against him presented by the Foundation for Human Rights (of Cuba), [although] without much hope because political police is always the power in Cuba, but at least I will try," García Basulto said.

García Basulto, 29, started at La Hora de Cuba as a graphic designer and has been working at the magazine for two years. She also collaborates with other news sites as an independent journalist. Since García Basulto, a visual artist, began to exercise journalism, she has generally covered issues of inequality and social repression by the Cuban government.

According to Diario de Cuba, the Cuban journalist has been detained on several occasions, and is constantly monitored and questioned by agents of the State Security.

"I am the owner of my freedom of expression, of my freedom of speech and of my freedom of the press, and I have not only exercised it during the two years that I’ve been a journalist, but I’ve exercised it all my life,” García Basulto said.

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.

More Articles