ASNE Protests Crackdown in Cuba

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(AP) The American Society of Newspapers Editors has protested to Cuban President Fidel Castro that Cuba’s recent crackdown on independent journalists and dissidents is “a crushing setback” to the country’s growing openness and tolerance of dissent.

“We are especially disturbed by the current show trials staged to somehow legitimize the imprisonment of the country’s leading independent journalists,” ASNE’s leadership wrote Castro. “These summary affairs ended quickly and predictably with trumped up verdicts of guilt and harsh prison sentences. The process makes a mockery of Cuban justice and due process.”

The ASNE letter, signed by outgoing President Diane H. McFarlin and five other officials, urged immediate amnesty for more than 28 independent journalists who were prosecuted.

“We also urge you to discard the politics of intolerance and accept the Cuban people’s desire for a free and independent press that allows the gathering and dissemination of news outside the state-controlled media,” it said.

At least 75 dissidents have undergone short trials and received heavy sentences on state security charges.

Cuba’s foreign minister said earlier this week that increased hostility from Washington forced the country to protect itself from a U.S.-backed opposition working to undermine the island’s socialist system.

ASNE is made up of about 800 top editors from U.S. daily newspapers.

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