The letter condemned an attack last week on journalist Joaquin Torres, noting he had been questioned by authorities several times during 1996 and detained once for three days. It urged Castro to put a stop to the harassment of independent journalists in Cuba.
Torres told foreign reporters on Saturday he was physically attacked on the doorstep of his Havana home by a group of four people who also insulted him and said they hoped he had been taught a lesson for sending out his news reports.
Torres said he reported the incident to the police and was medically certified at a local hospital as having received bruises to his shoulder and legs. He said two of the four people who attacked him were members of the local Communist Party and added he believed the attack was a ``state security operation.''
Torres is director of Habana Press, one of several small and illegal independent press organisations that have emerged in Cuba in the last several years. The organisations have no space in Cuba's media, which is strictly state-controlled, but publish their work abroad, mostly finding an audience among Cuban exiles.
Members of the independent press organisations, denounced as puppets of U.S. anti-Cuba policy by the government, are often called in for questioning and have sometimes been detained for short periods. In February, several dissident journalists were the target of pro-government street meetings, known as ``acts of repudiation.''