Human Rights Attorney Representing El Sexto Arrested in Havana

She was attempting to publicize the artist's unwarranted arrest.

Kimberley Motley, the international human rights attorney representing El Sexto, was arrested in Havana on Friday, December 16. Image courtesy Steven Pollock, Pollock Fine Art.

The American human rights attorney representing the jailed Cuban activist artist El Sexto was arrested in Havana on Friday, for attempting to hold a press conference outside the city’s National Capital Building.

According to witnesses, international attorney Kimberley Motley was arrested by plainclothes officers along with artist Gorki Águila, who collaborated with El Sexto on the 2016 exhibition “PORK,” and activist Luis Alberto Mariño, who is associated with Cuba Decide, an organization pushing for free elections in Cuba, the Human Rights Foundation reports.

Danilo Maldonado Machado, aka El Sexto, was forcefully arrested without explanation or formal charges in late November. He had been attempting to leave Cuba to attend Art Basel Miami, where he was scheduled to perform and exhibit work.

The London-based gallery Pollock Fine Art, which represents the artist, issued a press release on Saturday detailing the artist’s detention. He has been reportedly beaten, denied medical care after an asthma attack, and drugged with sedatives in his food. He has been moved to a maximum security prison, where his head has been shaved, and his phone and visitation accesses have been restricted.

Gorki Águila, Luis Alberto Mariño & Kimberley Motley. Photo courtesy Steven Pollock, Pollock Fine Art.

Gorki Águila, Luis Alberto Mariño & Kimberley Motley. Photo courtesy Steven Pollock, Pollock Fine Art.

Motley, an international litigator who currently works on commercial, criminal, and human rights issues in Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Uganda, and the United States, was attempting to publicize the details of El Sexto’s arrest and imprisonment when she was arrested.

“This outrageous abuse is the sad reality of Cuba’s ongoing totalitarianism,” says Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation. “They first arrest prodemocracy activist El Sexto for criticizing and mocking the deceased dictator, and now they arrest the lawyer that has traveled to Cuba to defend him.”

Meanwhile, artists such as Julian Schnabel, Tania Bruguera, and Waldo Díaz-Balart have reportedly added their names to a more than 8,000-signature-strong petition for El Sexto’s immediate release. Amnesty International has declared El Sexto a Prisoner of Conscience.

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