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Blogger denied freedom to travel outside Cuba

Amnesty International has called on the government of Cuba to lift the travel restrictions on Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez that prevent her from travelling to New York to receive an international journalism award. "The immigration office has just confirmed that they maintain the prohibition on letting me leave the country", wrote Yoani Sánchez on her Twitter page on Monday. This is the fourth time that Yoani Sánchez has been refused permission by the authorities to travel outside Cuba in the past two years. Yoani Sánchez was awarded a special citation for journalistic excellence by the board of the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest international award in journalism, for her writing on the Generation Y website which receives 1 million hits a month. In Generation Y, Yoani Sánchez writes about daily life in Cuba. She was due to accept the award on Wednesday at Columbia University in New York. "The Cuban authorities often deny exit visas and bar from leaving their country those who, like Yoani Sánchez, express critical views of the government," said Kerrie Howard, director of Amnesty International's Americas Programme. "Restricting freedom of movement by denying an exit visa to Yoani Sánchez constitutes an unnecessary punitive measure for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression." In May, the Cuban authorities denied Sánchez permission to fly to Madrid to accept an award for digital journalism. Sánchez is known as an outspoken advocate for freedom of expression and unrestricted access to internet. Her blog, Generation Y has been intermittently blocked by the authorities and cannot currently be read within Cuba.