Cuban officials detain two visiting foreign journalists

Two foreign journalists who were working in Cuba without government authorization were detained by authorities after they interviewed opposition activists, human rights and journalism advocacy groups said Friday.

Polish citizen Anna Bikont, of the leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, and Swiss journalist Nelly Norton were detained Thursday night in the central province of Sancti Spiritus, said Elizardo Sanchez of the non-governmental Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation. It was unclear if Norton was working for a specific media organization.

Detained with the women was Sanchez's brother and fellow rights activist, Gerardo Sanchez, who accompanied them on their trip to from Havana to Sancti Spiritus. In a statement distributed to international media, Sanchez said the three were subjected to "arbitrary detentions."

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists protested the detentions and said the two reporters were expected to be expelled later Friday. Cuban authorities could not be immediately reached late Friday, after government offices were closed for the weekend.

But in the past, they have justified occasional expulsions of foreign journalists working on the island without journalist visas, saying they are in violation of immigration regulations. Earlier this year, at least five foreign journalists, two Italians and three Poles, were expelled when they traveled to Cuba on tourist visas to cover a large dissident meeting, AP reports.

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