Spanish government intercedes on behalf of jailed journalist in Cuba

Spain announced that it has been negotiating on behalf on one of its jailed citizens, journalist Sebastián Martínez Ferraté, to determine why he has been held for 10 months in a Cuban prison without being formally charged, the Associated Press reports.

Martínez Ferraté was arrested when he arrived in Havana on July 11, 2010 to do work for a Spanish hotel chain. He was not working for a media company at the time, but his arrest appears to stem from a 2008 report on child prostitution in Cuba that he did as a TV reporter.

On May 8, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo was the first to report that Martínez Ferraté is accused of corruption of minors – a crime that carries a maximum 15-year sentence. However, the journalist said he still has not been told why he is in jail and that he is “desperate” because the Spanish consulate "abandoned" him. According to El Mundo, the authorities initially wanted to charge him with pimping children.

Since then, Spain’s foreign relations minister, Trinidad Jiménez, said that they were giving the reporter “consular assistance” and were taking the “necessary steps” so that Cuba presses formal charges against him, Diario de Cuba explains.

The last Cuban journalist jailed on the island was freed April 7, 2011. However, opposition reporters continue to face short-term arrests and harassment from the authorities.

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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.