UPDATED: Alejandro González Raga was released from prison Feb. 16, 2008, and took exile in Spain.
Alejandro González Raga and three other Cuban independent journalists on April 4, 2003, were tried in a Camagüey courtroom and convicted of violating article 91 of the Cuban criminal code, which prohibits "endangering independence or the state’s territorial integrity."
González, now 48, was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), González was accused specifically of "cooperating with the foreign press, in particular, with the Miami-based Web site CubaNet, and of 'systematically endangering territorial integrity' by writing reports on subjects considered 'very sensitive' by the Cuba authorities such as 'shortages due to the economic crisis, relations with other countries, TV programmes, the education budget.'"
In other words, González, who also is a member of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement, was convicted of doing his job as a reporter.
Of course, in Cuba, that makes him an outlaw.
The grounds for the verdict cited by the court included the many "counter-revolutionary" publications González contributed to, and his address book with the phone numbers of the main international news agencies, the Spanish embassy, the U.S. diplomatic representation (the "interests section"), Cuban-American congressmen, and the Reporters Without Borders president.
Account was also taken of the fact that he allegedly visited the U.S. interests section in Havana four times in 2001 and 2002 and received around $700 from a Cuban-American (non-governmental organization), the Directorio Democratico Cubano, which campaigns for democracy in Cuba.
His professional equipment — a tape-recorder, two radios and a printer — was confiscated from his home in Camagüey during a meticulous search carried out on the day of his arrest on 20 March.
For more on Uncommon Sense's March 18 Project, including profiles of other independent journalists, in and out of prison, read here.
To see pictures of most of the imprisoned journalists, go here.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Reporters Without Borders has an ongoing petition drive asking Fidel Castro to release independent journalists in prison. You can sign the petition here. (A technical note: Reporters Without Borders is based in Paris, so the confirmation e-mail you will receive after signing the petition will be in French. Just in case you don't read French, the confirmation e-mail asks you click on the link to complete the petition signature process. Castro won't receive your message until you click on the link.)
For more on the Cuban dissidents, see the Cuban American National Foundation's Web site.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is find and read the work of Cuba’s independent journalists. A place to find their articles, in Spanish, English and French, is CubaNet.
And yes, this is the same Cuba that on May 9, 2006, was elected to a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.