Adolfo Fernandez Sainz

Journalist Adolfo Fernández Saínz was arrested as part of a crackdown on alleged dissidents that began on 18 March 2003. He was one of 35 journalists, writers and librarians sentenced during the one-day trials held on 3/4 April 2003 under laws governing the protection of the Cuban state. The one-day court hearings were held behind closed doors and it is reported that there was insufficient time for the accused to put together a cogent defence. Fernández Saínz was sentenced to 15 years under Law 88.



On 3 June 2003, it was reported by Russian news agency Prima News that Fernández Saínz had started a 13-day hunger strike to demand more frequent visiting rights for his relatives. On 15 August 2003, it was reported that he had started another hunger strike, this time with Mario Enrique Mayo and Iván Hernández Carillo, to demand decent food and medicine for seriously ill prisoners. On 18 October 2003, he was reported to have begun a third hunger strike with Mario Enrique Mayo in protest at the sending of fellow journalist Iván Hernández Carillo to a punishment cell. On 6 December 2003, he was reported to have been knocked unconscious when he protested against violence used against a fellow prisoner.


In September 2004 it was announced that Fernández had developed an as yet undiagnosed lump around waist height. In February 2005, he was reported to be suffering from emphysema, a cyst in one of his kidneys, a hernia, prostatic hypertrophia (Grade 1), generalised arthritis and high blood pressure. He began a hunger strike on 19 August 2005 with two fellow prisoners in protest at an alleged assault by a prison guard on a fellow prisoner, who was subsequently sent to a punishment cell. A week later, on discovering that the prisoner in question had been removed from the punishment cell, the hunger strike was abandoned. On 6 January 2006, his wife and daughter visited him in prison and reported that he was suffering from high blood pressure and circulation problems and had lost weight. On 24 August 2007, it was reported that Fernández’ health was in further decline. He was said to be suffering from chronic hypertension, emphysema, prostatic hyperplasia and a kidney cyst, and according to his daughter is 20lbs under his normal wait.


On 19 September 2008, alongside prisoners of conscience Pedro Arguelles Morán and Antonio Dias Sanchez, Fernández Sainz began a hunger strike, protesting against the withholding of religious materials, personal letters and photos that had been brought to the prison by his wife. They brought the hunger strike to a successful end on the morning of the 23 September, when the authorities of Canaleta Prison in Ciego de Avila handed over the religious literature which had been withheld from Fernández Sainz since 16 September. In late 2008 it was reported that his wife has to travel 400 km for their two monthly visits.


PEN firmly believes that his conviction and continued detention are in violation of international human rights standards to which Cuba is party. Furthermore, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has formally declared that all those sentenced in the March 2003 clampdown are being detained arbitrarily. In light of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), signed by Cuban leaders on 28 February 2008, which states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention”, we strongly urge the Cuban authorities to release Adolfo Fernández Saínz, immediately and unconditionally.


Please send appeals:


– Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Adolfo Fernández Saínz and the 25 other Cuban writers, journalist and librarians, currently detained in Cuba in violation of their right to free expression.
– Urging the government to ratify without reservations the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19 of which specifically guarantees the right to freedom of expression), which it signed in February 2008, and to introduce the necessary legislative and judicial reforms to guarantee freedom of expression.


Appeals to:


Head of State and Government
Raúl Castro Ruz
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: 53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency
Interior Minister
General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: 53 7 8333085 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
1 2127791697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister
Please also send copies of your appeal letters via the Cuban Embassy in London:


HE René J. Mujica Cantelar
167 High Holborn
WC1 6PA  

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