PRESS RELEASE
                       From the Friends of Cuban Libraries

              Date: August 31, 2000          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    On Tuesday, August 29, three Swedish journalists were arrested in Havana 
by agents of the State Security police; they are being held in the "Control 
of Foreigners" detention center in the Miramar neighborhood of Havana.  The 
three journalists - Peter Goetell, Birger Thuresson and Helena Soederquist - 
had travelled to Cuba on tourist visas to present workshops on freedom of the 
press.  The last workshop in the series was scheduled to be given at Havana's 
Jorge Manach Library, which is one of approximately fifty independent 
libraries in Cuba whose goal is to provide uncensored reading materials to 
the people of the island nation.  The Jorge Manach Library was featured in an 
article in the August 3 edition of the Washington Post which was sindicated 
in other newspapers.  The workshops on press freedom were sponsored by the 
Swedish International Liberal Center in Stockholm.  The SILC  is funded by 
the Liberal Party with financial assistance from the Swedish government.

    The arrest of the three journalists met with an angry reaction in Sweden. 
 The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anna Lindh, demanded the release of the 
imprisoned journalists.  In an interview with Sweden's National Television, 
Ms. Lindh stated: "It is tragic that Cuba once again demonstrates the type of 
dictatorial regime that it is."  In another statement, the Foreign Minister 
declared:  "This is sadly tragic, as it concerns a dictatorship that doesn't 
accept contacts between journalists or citizens, but rather reacts in this 
way to impede free discussion."  The president of Sweden's Liberal Party, 
Lars Leijonborg, also demanded the release of the journalists and called for 
a review of Swedish foreign aid programs for Cuba.

    The Cuban government has announced that the three journalists will be 
deported later today.
    This news has been gathered from today's Nuevo Herald and an article by 
Manuel Orrio published in yesterday's edition of the CubaNet database 
(, in the Independent Press section.

    BACKGROUND: The Friends of Cuban Libraries, founded in June 1999, is an 
independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit support group for the independent 
librarians.  The Friends oppose censorship and all other violations of  
intellectual freedom, as defined by the International Declaration of Human 
Rights, regardless of whatever political party may be in office in Cuba.  We 
are funded entirely by our members and do not seek or accept contributions 
from other sources.  For more information, contact Robert Kent 
([log in to unmask]) or telephone (USA) 718-340-8494.  Mailing address: 4-74 
48th Avenue, Apt. 3-C, Long Island City, NY 11109 USA.