These are excerpts from a message released by the Inter American Press Association on Wednesday, World Press Freedom Day.

Today, the Inter American Press Association is focusing attention on the deplorable plight of 25 independent Cuban journalists imprisoned for committing crimes of conscience. We call upon the government of President Fidel Castro to release all 25 and immediately provide medical treatment to the 18 who are suffering serious health problems.

The condition of the journalists has deteriorated since they were jailed in March 2003 as part of an official crackdown on a group of 75 dissidents. The decline is due to physical mistreatment and punishment, poor food, lack of medical attention, restrictions on family visits, overcrowded cells and confinement among a dangerous criminal population.

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