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Date: 2001-06-22

CU: Zwei Jahre für WWW-Dissidenten

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q/depesche 01.6.22/1

CU: Zwei Jahre für WWW-Dissidenten

Zwei Jahren Häfen oder Knast für "die Verbreitung falscher
Informationen" im WWW über das segensreiche Walten des
Staats - was im Kuba des Jahrs 2001 immer noch möglich ist,
mag Nostalgie bei den zahllosen Lakaien des Leviathan weltweit

Post/scrypt: Wer sagt denn da schon wieder, dass ein Staat, in
dem solche Urteile gang & gäbe sind im WWW grundsätzlich
keine Präsenz verloren hat?

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Cyber dissident sentenced to two years' imprisonment

SOURCE: Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Paris

**Updates IFEX alerts of 24 and 8 May 2001**

(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to Justice Minister Roberto T. Díaz
Sotolongo, RSF protested the sentencing of José Orlando
González Bridón to two years in prison, accused of distributing
"false information" after publishing an article on a foreign-based
website. RSF asked for his immediate release and that the
charges against him be dismissed. "This sentence represents a
toughening of the repression against dissidents who publish thier
ideas on the web," said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard.
"The Cuban authorities are no longer satisfied with controlling
access to the net on the island, they are also repressing the
distribution of information on sites which the Cuban population
does not even have access to," added Ménard.

According to information collected by RSF, González Bridón,
secretary-general of the Cuban Democratic Workers' Confederation
(Confederación de Trabajadores Democráticos de Cuba, CTDC, an
illegal entity), was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for
"distributing false information, seriously endangering Cuba's
prestige and credibility." His family was informed of the sentence
on 12 June. The trial took place on 24 May after being postponed
several times. Only González Bridón's family was allowed to attend
the trial. Foreign press and opponents were denied access to the
court by a large police presence. According to those close to the
trade unionist, seats open to the public in the courtroom were
occupied by military officers.

In an article published on 5 August 2000 on the Cuba Free Press
website (, based in Florida (U.S.A.), the trade
unionist called into question the authorities' responsibility in the
death of National CTDC Coordinator Joanna González Herrera.
González Bridón also reported this information, which was deemed
"subversive" by the court, on a Miami-based radio station. He was
arrested on 15 December and has been imprisoned since that
date. Aged fifty, he suffers from kidney problems. According to
family members, he is believed to be very depressed and suffering
psychological pressures in the Combinado del Este (province of La
Habana) prison where he is currently being held. The authorities
have denied his mother-in-law the right to visit him.

In Cuba, small independent press agencies, human rights and civil
society organisations, not recognized by the government, regularly
publish articles on websites housed in Miami, sending articles
transmitted by fax phone.

RSF recalls that journalist Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, director of the
independent press agency Línea Sur Press, is still imprisoned (see
IFEX alerts of 12 April, 26 and 12 March and 20 February 2001, 25
July and 11 April 2000, 10 December, 22 October, 17 June and 29
January 1999 and 21 September 1998). In November 1997, he was
convicted and sentenced to six years' imprisonment for insulting
("desacato") President Fidel Castro and vice president Carlos
Lage. He is being held at a forced labour camp in El Diamante, in
Cienfuegos province (centre of the island). Believing that he was
not "politically re-educated" yet, the camp authorities denied his
petition for conditional leave on 1 April. Theoretically, he could have
had recourse to such an option as of October for having completed
half his sentence.

In a report titled "The enemies of the Internet" and published by
RSF in March, the organisation noted:

"In 1996, the Cuban government adopted Law 209 titled 'Access
from the Republic of Cuba to the global network.' Use of the
internet, according to this law, should not 'violate the moral
principles of Cuban society nor the country's laws.' E-mail should
not 'compromise national security.' On the other hand, on 13
January 2000, Castro created the Information Technology and
Communications Ministry and announced that he wanted to
'transform Cuba into an information society.'"

Castro regularly condemns this "manipulative instrument of
capitalism, in which the majority of the information is available in
English." Citizens who wish to have access to the Internet must
provide a "valid reason". If their petition is granted, a contract of use
with restrictive clauses is signed. Only the Cuban nomenclature
has access to the Internet: politicians, high-ranking civil servants,
intellectuals and journalists who are close to circles of power, as
well as embassies and foreign companies. Cuban exporting
communities do not have complete access to the Net and are
limited to e-mail.

A black market for e-mail addresses has arisen, serving few
Cubans who have access to a computer. Similar to fax copiers,
computers must be declared to the government. Cuban Internet
users suspect that information services intercept their e-mails
because foreign messages either arrive hours after they have been
sent or not at all.

All Internet traffic is centralised in a single machine, which carries
out censorship via filters. Many sites are not available from Cuba.
The filter is implemented on several levels: the site's URL, the IP
addess and its contents are all carefully controlled through a list of
hundreds of keywords. Some young Internet users, however, have
been able to access the entire Net, prevailing over the obstacles.

Indirectly, the Internet permits independent journalists (a hundred
or so in the island, harassed and considered
"counterrevolutionary") to enlarge their audience. Even though they
do not have access to the Net, Cuban communities in exile
(particularly in Miami) spread their articles transmitted by
telephone or by fax

Official newspapers "Granma", "Juventud Rebeld" or
"Trabajadores", and the national news agency Prensa Latina each
have a website. The Cuban regime censures the Internet but also
uses it to spread its propaganda.

For further information, contact Régis Bourgeat at RSF, 5, rue
Geoffroy Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 84, fax:
+33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail: Internet:

The information contained in this alert update is the sole
responsibility of RSF. In citing this material for broadcast or
publication, please credit RSF.

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edited by Harkank
published on: 2001-06-22
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