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Journalists covering Cuba were on U.S. payroll

PCJF lawsuit against BBG seeks key documents on covert domestic propaganda operation

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) filed a lawsuit on Sept. 9, 2009 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) because it has “unlawfully failed to disclose specific U.S. government-paid contracts with journalists” who published materials that were negative to Cuba and prejudicial to the case of the Cuban Five.

This lawsuit comes at a critical time. People in the United States and throughout the hemisphere want a real change in U.S.-Cuban relations. They want an end to the 60-year-long blockade; an end to the covert operations and terrorism against Cuba; an end to the lies, misinformation and media manipulation.

Background to the PCJF lawsuit

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, under the Freedom of Information Act, submitted a request on Jan. 23, 2009 to the BBG seeking public disclosure of the BBG’s funding of journalists including specifically identified contracts between the BBG and these journalists. The government is unlawfully refusing to produce these documents.

The BBG is prohibited by law from funding domestic propaganda and attempting to influence U.S. opinion, yet has apparently been funding journalists who place stories in domestic media outlets.

Beginning soon after the arrest of the Cuban Five on September 12, 1998, and continuing through the trial, the Miami media played a major role in creating a hostile atmosphere in the city through newspaper, television and radio.

It has since emerged that many of the journalists in Miami who claimed to be independent reporters were being paid by the United States government, through the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversee U.S.-sponsored Radio and TV Martí.

If the U.S. government was, as it appears, funding journalists who wrote or promoted incendiary and false stories about Cuba or the Cuban 5, it would raise serious issues of government misconduct and deprivation of the right to a fair trial. Such stories would likely influence and taint both the jury pool and the seated jury while the U.S. was simultaneously prosecuting the Five.

A growing movement exists in the United States to normalize relations with Cuba. We can live together as neighbors. It is essential, as we go forward, that the government disclose to the U.S. public documents and information that shed light on government policy.

The public is lawfully entitled to these documents especially those that reveal that the government, through the BBG, may have illegally engaged in the conduct of domestic propaganda.

To read the legal complaint, click this link.