Motley was in Cuba for three days as the international attorney for political prisoner Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado, a celebrated Cuban artist imprisoned since Castro’s death more than twenty-one days ago.
Motley was taken by plainclothes security agents as she was trying to hold a press conference outside of the National Capitol Building in Havana. Motley was arrested along with dissident punk rock artist Gorki Águila and democracy activist Luis Alberto Mariño from the civil society group Cuba Decide (an organization devoted to the holding of free elections in Cuba). Motley was arrested without any explanation and interrogated for hours at an unknown police station, after which she was allowed to go to her Havana hotel. At midnight on Friday, police officers appeared at Motley’s hotel, and interrogated her again for around an hour. She was threatened with a new arrest if she failed to board a flight on Saturday morning.
“After being arrested and detained for several hours, I underwent a new round of interrogation at my hotel after midnight. The police knew I was scheduled to depart at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, and told me I better get on the plane or else I would be imprisoned,” said Kimberley Motley in a phone interview with HRF. “Once at the airport, however, they again took my passport for several hours, forcing me to miss my flight. While they did not allow me to see Danilo, I believe my three days there and the abusive arrest I was the victim of, allowed me to have a fuller understanding as to what dissidents like Gorki or Tito, who volunteered to be my translators, suffer on a regular basis, and to reinforce my will to help imprisoned artists like Danilo. I will continue to represent Danilo internationally, and, since I’m an American citizen and Cuba has normalized relations with my country, I will continue to push for his release and, if necessary, will attempt to visit him at the Combinado del Este prison again soon,” she added.
“When she volunteered to go to Havana, Motley, was fully aware that the judicial system of a totalitarian country where the Code of Ethics for lawyers calls on them to ‘follow the example of Fidel Castro Ruz’ would not be friendly. Nevertheless, Motley courageously risked her freedom to try to see El Sexto and to learn about his case,” said Javier El-Hage, chief legal officer of HRF. “While Motley’s ambitious purpose of having El Sexto freed has not yet been achieved, her arbitrary detention along with prodemocracy activists Gorki and Tito for trying to see El Sexto, helps make his case more widely known, and, as a result, may contribute greatly to his liberation. Considering the overt lack of an independent judicial system in Cuba, international public awareness and pressure is the best hope for El Sexto’s release,” he said.
Kimberley Motley is an international litigator who currently works on commercial, criminal, and human rights issues in every continent except Antarctica including in countries such as Afghanistan, Malaysia, and the U.S. Motley is the founder of Motley Legal Services and the co-founder of Motley Consulting International. In 2009, she became the first and only foreigner to litigate cases in Afghanistan's criminal and commercial courts. In 2015, the award-winning documentary "Motley's Law" premiered at film festivals across the world. On a pro bono basis, Motley collaborates with HRF’s legal team based in New York to provide international legal representation and seek the release prisoners of conscience worldwide.
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
CONTACT Cuban officials and ask them for the release of Maldonado:
Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez, Ambassador, Cuban Permanent Mission at the United Nations. Address: 315 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY, 10016. Telephone: (212) 689-7215. Fax: (212) 689 9073.