Writers in Prison

Jose Orlando Gonzalez Bridon, the secretary-general of the banned Cuban Democratic Workers' Confederation, has been sentenced to two years in prison for publishing an article on the internet. His trial took place in May this year, when the trade unionist was accused of distributing "false information, seriously endangering Cuba's prestige and credibility". The sentence is further evidence of Fidel Castro's determination to extend his press censorship to the net, which he has condemned as a "manipulative instrument of capitalism".

Gonzalez Bridon, who is 50, has been labelled a cyber-dissident. He is serving his sentence in Combinado del Este prison (La Habana province), and his health is said to be deteriorating. He has kidney problems, high blood pressure and is suffering from severe depression. His mother-in-law has been prevented from visiting him and his family has reported being harassed by members of the Defence Committee of the Revolution.

Appeals should be addressed to:

His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruiz
President of Cuba
c/o Cuban Mission to the United Nations
New York
(Fax: 001 212 779 1697)

Joan Smith chairs the Writers in Prison Committee of English PEN