HAVANA TIMES – The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday called on Cuban authorities to refrain from sentencing freelance journalist Lazaro Yuri Valle Roca to prison, to drop all charges against him, and to release the journalist, who has been held for more than a year in pretrial detention.
In a closed-door hearing at the Marianao Municipal Tribunal in Havana on June 28, prosecutors requested a six-year prison sentence for the crimes of contempt and sharing enemy propaganda, according to news reports and Normando Hernández, general manager of the local press freedom group Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP), who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. Valle’s wife, Eralidis Frometa, told ICLEP that the court is expected to issue a sentence within the next two weeks.
“After more than a year in pretrial detention, Cuban journalist Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca is being forced through a sham trial that could condemn him to years in prison simply for reporting,” said CPJ Latin America and the Caribbean Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “Cuban authorities should release Valle immediately and stop treating independent journalists like criminals.”
Valle has been held in pretrial detention since June 15, 2021, when he was arrested after police summoned him to allegedly close a 2020 contempt investigation. The day before his arrest, he had reported on pro-democracy leaflets thrown from a building in Havana for his YouTube channel Delibera, as CPJ documented. He has suffered from multiple health conditions, including kidney problems while on hunger strike, according to CPJ research.