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European Journalists Detained In Cuba
Monday, December 05, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

Polish and Swiss journalists arrested

Journalists from Poland and Switzerland were detained by Cuban authorities on Friday. Their crime? Meeting with a member of Cuba's political opposition.

The Caribbean New News reports :

Anna Bikont and Nelly Norton were detained by Cuban security officials in the town of Santi Spiritus, located 270 miles southeast of Havana, according to Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

Bikont works for Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, while the employer of Norton, who has both Swiss and Italian nationality, was unknown.

Also detained was their guide Gerardo Sanchez, Elizardo Sanchez's brother.

Human rights activists say the journalists had traveled to the island on tourist visas rather than journalist visas which was the excuse for their arrest. Their passports and airline tickets were seized.

"We consider that this amounts to three arbitrary detentions," Sanchez said.

"A journalist can go to any country on a private visit and learn about the country. They were seeing reality and visiting people outside the governmental sphere," he told AFP.

Back in May, at the time of the Assembly To Promote A Civil Society meeting, six Poles were detained, including three journalists. Two members of the EU Parliament were also detained at that time.

Update - ABC News is now reporting that the journalists were deported.

Anna Bikont, who works for Gazeta Wyborcza, one of Poland's most widely circulated newspapers, was put on an Air Lauda flight to Milan by immigration police, said Polish First Secretary Daniel Gromann.

Her colleague and travel companion, Nelly Norton, a dual national Swiss-Italian psychologist who works as a journalist, was also expelled.

The Committee To Protect Journalists has condemned the expulsion. The group points out that Cuba has arrested more journalists than any country on earth, save China.


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