Manuel Vázquez Portal said on 24 June that he had been released from prison without receiving any official notification of the reason. The authorities had simply told him he was free without specifying that he had been given a temporary permission. He added that two State Security agents had suggested to him that he leave the country. Portal said he had not taken a decision. He wanted “to see the end of the film” and told AFP that he hoped to continue working as a journalist.He rejected the possibility that he had been freed for health reasons and believed the real reason was for the “Cuban government to send a veiled message to the international community.” He said was “physically healthy” and felt that other journalists like Raúl Rivero and Oscar Espinosa Chepe were in a more fragile state of health than he was and “should have been released before me.”————————————————————————24.06.2004 – Manuel Vázquez Portal released Reporters Without Borders has welcomed the 23 June release of freelance journalist Manuel Vázquez Portal in Cuba but warned that it did not mean any improvement in the situation of press freedom under President Fidel Castro.”This may be good news for Manuel Vázquez and his family, but it isn’t yet for press freedom,” the organisation said. “Firstly, because Vázquez is threatened with being reimprisoned if he resumes his journalistic activities. Secondly, and above all, because 26 of his fellow journalists are still in prison in Cuba and the government still has a monopoly of the press.”With Vázquez, a total of 10 dissidents – three of them journalists – have been released since the start of the year. Six of them were part of the group of 75 dissidents who were rounded up in a dramatic crackdown in March 2003. Castro is on the Reporters Without Borders list of 37 predators of press freedom around the world.”It would be a mistake to suggest that this represents any relaxation in repression in Cuba when, according to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), between 20 and 30 dissidents have been arrested since the start of this year,” the organisation added.Vázquez was released yesterday morning from “Boniato” prison in Santiago de Cuba province and reached his home in Havana, more than 1,000 km to the west, in the evening. For health reasons, he was given a special authorisation to return to his home that is the legal equivalent of house arrest. It is not unconditional.The head of the CCDHRN, Elizardo Sánchez, pointed out that, under the criminal code, this special leave ends when the detainee’s health improves. Vázquez could also be reimprisoned if he went back to working as an independent journalist.Vázquez suffers from pulmonary emphysema (a narrowing of the respiratory passages causing a lack of oxygen in the blood). He had on several occasions described his prison conditions as inhumane. The CCDHRN said the condition of his health, and that of the other released dissidents, had been considered serious since last year..Trial and biographyManuel Vázquez Portal had been arrested on 19 March 2003 during the Cuban “black spring” crackdown that saw 75 opposition figures arrested then sentenced to jail terms ranging from six to 28 years. He had been sentenced on 4 April 2004 to 18 years in prison by the division for state security crimes of the Havana provincial court. Vázquez Portal was accused of endangering Cuba’s independence under law 88 for writing articles for the cubanet.org website, contributing to Radio Martí, the US government radio station that beams programmes to Cuba, receiving frequent dollar transfers from the United States as payment for his articles, and meeting regularly with officials of the US interests section in Havana.A philology graduate of Villa Clara university, a former teacher, a former literary adviser at the ministry of culture, a former journalist with the government news media (including the magazine Caimán Barbudo), Vázquez is a poet and writer who won three official prizes between 1984 and 1993 before being expelled from the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC) in 1995 because of his dissident views. Co-founder in 1995 of Cuba Press and in 1997 of the Independent Journalists Cooperative, in 1998 he set up the Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, a news agency dedicated to literary and cultural news.Vázquez Portal had been granted a political refugee visa by the United States, but the Cuban authorities did not give him an exit permit until 18 October 2002, after the US authorities had suspected “freedom flights” between Cuba and the mainland as part of the security measures adopted in the wake of 11 September 2001. Now that he has been released, Vázquez intends to set about once again taking all the necessary steps to get permission to leave the country. more information RSF and Fundamedios welcome US asylum ruling in favor of Cuban journalist Serafin Moran Santiago Follow the news on Cuba News CubaAmericas News Cuba and its Decree Law 370: annihilating freedom of expression on the Internet News Help by sharing this information May 6, 2020 Find out more Receive email alerts to go further RSF_en CubaAmericas News Reporters Without Borders welcomed the 23 June release of journalist Manuel Vázquez Portal. The organisation declined to refer to it as good news for press freedom as long as the government maintains its monopoly on news. The journalist himself described his release as “a veiled message to the international community”. Organisation New press freedom predators elected to UN Human Rights Council June 25, 2004 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Journalist Manuel Vázquez Portal released October 15, 2020 Find out more October 12, 2018 Find out more
‘Project delays to increase gas price levels’ Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of Russia’s Gazprom and operator of the Nord Stream 2 offshore gas pipeline, has submitted a third application for a route through Danish waters while accusing Denmark of making deliberate attempts to delay the project by asking for the third route option.The Pioneering Spirit vessel installing Nord Stream 2 in Swedish waters. Source: Nord Stream 2 AGThis third application for the pipeline route through Danish waters was submitted on Monday, April 15 more than two years after submitting the first application.The pipeline operator said on Monday that the third application, together with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), covers a route in the Danish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the waters south of Bornholm. This application and the EIA has been submitted in accordance with the decision made by the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) on March 26, 2019.According to the operator, the EEZ border between Poland and Denmark was previously disputed and therefore the area was not available for any project developer. An agreement has been reached between the two countries, which, however, has not yet been ratified by Poland, the pipeline operator explained.Nord Stream 2 already has two pending applications with the DEA.Namely, in January 2018, the amended Danish Continental Shelf Act entered into force with retroactive effect only for the Nord Stream 2 project. The law gives the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs the right to veto infrastructure projects running through territorial waters on political grounds. Such a judgement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now been pending for 16 months. Nord Stream 2 AG has not received any response at all.In August 2018, after 8 months without any indication of the timing of the Minister of Foreign Affairs recommendation, Nord Stream 2 was therefore forced to apply for a second, alternative route outside Danish territorial waters, north-west of Bornholm through the Danish EEZ.Nord Stream 2 AG claims that both permitting processes, which included consultations with the public and expert authorities, nationally and internationally (the so-called Espoo procedure), have shown that all technical and environmental prerequisites are fulfilled and a construction permit could be granted for either route. ‘Denmark’s actions hinder freedom’ In the statement on Monday, Nord Stream 2 AG said: “For a project developer like Nord Stream 2 AG, it is incomprehensible why there has still been no decision on the route through territorial waters after 16 months since entry into force of the amended Danish Continental Shelf Act, and why there has been no decision on the route north-west of Bornholm even though there have been and are no relevant environmental or safety objections against this route. Asking for a third route option to be developed, despite two fully processed, ready-to-be-permitted applications on the table, can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to delay the project’s completion.“Irrespective of its own starkly different legal assessment, Nord Stream 2 AG is now forced to submit this third application as a mitigation measure. Any project developer and investor on the whole depend on a predictable, stable and transparent regulatory framework and such actions from Denmark not only undermine fundamental Danish constitutional and European law principles of legitimate expectations and legal certainty but also hinder freedom of laying the submarine pipes in exclusive economic zones as set out in UNCLOS 1982 and as such is not compliant with the good faith principle required by UNCLOS 1982.”Gazprom as the shareholder as well as five major European energy companies as financial investors from Austria, France, Germany and the Netherlands back the project. Committed investments currently equal almost all of the project’s CAPEX. Globally, more than 670 companies from 25 countries are involved in the project.Nord Stream 2 gas project map; Source: Nord Stream 2 AG Nord Stream 2 AG emphasized that studies had shown that in the case of a delay of the project, lack of access to competitive gas supplies would increase price levels throughout Europe. European families and industries will foot the bill of at least 20 million euros – for every day of delay, the operator said.In accordance with the permits in four countries, work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is ongoing in Russia, Finland, Sweden and Germany. More than 1,000 kilometers, approximately the distance from Copenhagen to Paris, of the two lines have been laid.Nord Stream 2 was designed as two parallel 48 inch lines, roughly 1,200 kilometers long, each starting from south-west of St Petersburg and ending at German coast, Greifswald. Nord Stream 2’s natural gas pipelines will have the capacity to transport 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas a year to the EU, for at least 50 years.Denmark is not the only country where the giant pipeline project has faced obstacles. Namely, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project has been under fire from the European Parliament as well as a number of U.S. senators last December who called for its cancellation due to security reason.The project has been seen by some as a threat to the EU energy security, making the union vulnerable to reliance on Russian gas, and it also bypasses Ukraine in moving Russian gas to Europe.In addition to opposition from the EP, over 40 U.S. senators have also called for the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.In more recent news, the U.S. political journal Politico reported last Thursday that the U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, had criticized the European Commission for not putting more effort into killing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.Furthermore, Reuters reported on Thursday that the construction of the pipeline was bound to face more delays, forcing Moscow to come to an agreement with Ukraine on future gas transits.Offshore Energy Today StaffSpotted a typo? 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