Reverend Jesús Noel Carballeda, a 45-year-old Cuban pastor of an unregistered church in Havana who had been imprisoned for six months for holding unauthorised religious services, was released on 31 August.
Reverend Carballeda was detained in early February and imprisoned in the Valle Grande prison in San Antonio de los Baños outside of Havana. He does not appear to have been tried, but while in prison he was informed by government officials that he would be held for six months as punishment for his continued unauthorised religious activity.
Reverend Carballeda was previously imprisoned in 2000 for four months after militant communist neighbours filed legal complaints about church services he held in his family home in Marianao, Havana.
Reverend Carballeda’s church is linked to the Apostolic Movement, a fast growing network of protestant churches which the Cuban government has refused to register. Because the religious group is unregistered, all of the affiliated church’s activities are technically illegal and they are unable to apply for permits for a designated place of worship.
The detention of Reverend Carballeda is part of a larger crackdown on religious freedom in Cuba over the past few years. Unregistered religious groups have been a particular target of government repression, with religious leaders reporting harassment, fines and threats of confiscation or destruction of property.
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide