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Cuban journalist jailed after photographing inspectors, declares hunger strike

Cuban news agency Hablemos Press reported the arrest of independent journalist Héctor Julio Cedeño on Feb. 5, for allegedly attacking a police officer in Havana, the capital.

In a phone call to the news agency, the reporter explained that police arrested him for photographing inspectors performing their duties without their uniforms. In a struggle that followed, he tore the shirt of one of the police, resulting in the charge of attacking an officer. The reporter claimed he was hit in the cheek in the scuffle.

Blogger Yoani Sánchez tweeted that Cedeño was arrested for taking photos of inspectors harassing self-employed taxi drivers.

The journalist was taken to a criminal processing center and has declared a hunger strike to protest his detention, according to the website Martí Noticias.

According to police rules, only family members can intercede on behalf of arrested people. The journalist, however, has no close relatives, forcing his colleagues to search for other ways to get him clothing and toiletries, according to Martí Noticias.

Last November, Hablemos Press denounced the temporary detention of five of its reporters while Calixto Martínez has served five months in prison for reporting on an outbreak of cholera and dengue on the island.

In an open letter to Cuban President Raúl Castro, Reporters Without Borders (RSF in French) said that the detentions of reporters contradict statements the president made when he assumed the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, where he promised to respect international law and promote dialogue between nations. "Does this kind of obstruction and persecution really help the critical debate you advocate?" Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of RSF, asked Castro.


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