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Cuban Mathematician Francisco Chaviano Released After More Than Thirteen Years in Prison
August 16, 2007

On Friday, August 10, 2007, Cuban mathematician Francisco Chaviano González was conditionally released from prison on grounds of poor health. He had served more than 13 years of a 15-year prison sentence. Mr. Chaviano’s health deteriorated dramatically during his years in prison. He is 54 years old and suffers from numerous ailments, including ischemic heart disease caused by narrowed arteries and a 9 mm nodule on his right lung that reportedly requires surgery.

Mr. Chaviano was president of the National Council for Civil Rights in Cuba (CNDCC – Consejo Nacional por los Derechos Civiles en Cuba). In April 1994, Mr. Chaviano was one of several human rights defenders who signed a joint letter to Cuban President Fidel Castro that called for the release of all political prisoners and the legal recognition of national human rights groups. Less than three weeks later, on May 7, 1994, a stranger reportedly hand-delivered a packet of documents to Mr. Chaviano’s home, saying that it contained information about human rights abuses. Before Mr. Chaviano had a chance to examine the documents, state security officials reportedly raided his home, seized the packet, along with CNDCC case files, and other items, and arrested him. Subsequently, Mr. Chaviano and his lawyer were denied access to the packet of documents because it was classified as “secret” even though it was presented by government prosecutors as evidence that he had masterminded a scheme to sell forged documents to Cubans applying for U.S. visas. Following lengthy pre-trial detention and a trial that failed to meet international standards of fairness, Mr. Chaviano was convicted of "revealing state security secrets," "revealing administrative secrets," and "falsifying public documents." He was adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.

We thank the many CHR correspondents and H.R. Network participants who responded to our alerts by writing more than 220 letters to the Cuban authorities appealing for Mr. Chaviano’s release.