HAVANA, Jan 27 (Reuters) - A jailed independent journalist, who worked illegally outside communist Cuba's state-run media, was completing his 10th day of a hunger strike to protest against his four-year sentence, dissident sources said on Wednesday.
They quoted Jesus Diaz Hernandez as telling his parents during a visit to Canaleta jail in Ciego de Avila province, that he would continue to refuse food and water -- even if he died -- if the charges were not retracted.
Diaz, 24, was also said to have rejected toilet and hygiene facilities in his cell, so he would not be suspected of drinking water. ``I will stay on hunger and thirst strike until the end,'' he was quoted as saying by Cuba Press, an independent news agency based in Havana.
There was no confirmation by Cuban officials of his sentence or hunger strike. Diaz' family could not immediately be reached for comment.
Diaz, 24, was sentenced last week in the northern coastal town of Moron, to four years' imprisonment on charges of ``dangerousness'' -- a charge sometimes used against dissidents in Cuba, the sources said.
Supporters of Diaz, who heads the small Cooperative of Independent Journalists in Ciego de Avila, say he has been targeted by authorities for his journalistic activities and previous work as a human rights campaigner.
Around 40 independent journalists, some former opposition or human rights activists, work in Cuba, generally sending reports abroad for use on the Internet. They are considered dissidents by the government which often denounces them as ``counter-revolutionaries'' in the pay of the United States.
Paris-based press freedom watchdog, Reporters without Borders (RsF), appealed for Diaz' release to President Fidel Castro's government last week.
RsF, and dissidents here, say two other independent journalists are jailed in Cuba. They are Bernardo Arevalo Padron, imprisoned in 1997 for six years, and Manuel Gonzalez, held three months ago and awaiting trial.
Havana says there are no prisoners of conscience in Cuba, only criminals serving sentences for legitimate crimes, including ``counter-revolutionary'' acts, as laid down in the island's penal code.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited