UPDATED, Sept. 25, 2010 — Miguel Galván was released from prison in September 2010 and forced into exile in Spain.
Via CubaNet, Movimiento Sindical Independiente reports that prison officials have denied political prisoner Miguel Galván Gutiérrez access to religious services. Galván, a journalist, independent trade unionist and mechanical engineer, was arrested during the "black spring" crackdown of March 2003, tried and sentenced to 26 years in prison — one of the harshest punishments handed down to dissidents arrested three years ago.
Teresa Galván Gutiérrez told Lux Info Press that restricting her brother's access to religious services violates established prison procedures and denies him the only thing that relieves some of the pain of his unjust imprisonment. Prison officials have also denied him access to reading materials and needed medical care, according to the MSI report.
Galván, now 40, was arrested March 18, 2003. At his trial the next month, he was accused of being "a mercenary in the service of a foreign power." Two of the witnesses against him were agents who had infiltrated the dissidents, agronomist Noel Ascanio Montero and his wife Yamila Pérez Reyes, a lab assistant, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Prosecutors had recommended that Galván be sentenced to 11 years in prison, but the judge instead sentenced him to 26 years.
In prison, Galván, who has gone on hunger strike at least twice, has been a problem inmate.
RSF reports he has been brought up before prison disciplinary boards several times for breaking prison rules or for otherwise being a pain in the ass to his jailers.
For example, in August 2004, according to RSF, Galván was disciplined "for sending out material to be passed on to Miami radio stations. Guards also found in his cell letters to Osvaldo Payá, the author of the Varela Project, and to independent journalist Dorka de Céspedes."
In another instance earlier that year, Galván was accused of insolence after he called an officer in charge of political re-education a "thief" and a "henchman of Fidel Castro."
CubaPP.info has more on Galván:
As an independent journalist, Miguel has spent ten years of his life advocating for freedom of speech for the Cuban people. As an believer in civil disobedience, Miguel has peacefully demonstrated for human rights in Cuba.
In 1998, Miguel was run over by a truck, whose driver abandoned the scene . The facts of the incident raised suspicion as to whether it was an accident or a deliberate attempt on Miguel’s life. Miguel underwent five surgeries to repair damage in his abdomen, legs and arms.
Miguel was arrested without cause several times between 1999 and 2000. He was exiled to the province of Pinar del Rio. His family and friends filed complaints with the district attorney, who never did anything to investigate.
Miguel Galván Gutierrez says he feels spiritually strong. However, physically he does not think he can survive much longer unless there is a drastic change and fears he will die in prison.
PayoLibre has more on Galván, in Spanish.
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 all 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.