The US government is set to ease restrictions on publishing papers from countries under a US trade embargo. At the same time, however, it has warned off more than 50 US scientists from attending a conference last week in Cuba, one of the embargoed countries.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), part of the Treasury Department, says it will provide a general licence allowing publishers to edit material from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Cuba and other embargoed countries. But it is now demanding that US scientists obtain a specific licence for travel to professional meetings in Cuba — or face "criminal and/or civil penalties".
A number of people who arrange or attend science meetings in Cuba are shocked by OFAC's decision, fearing it could end the flow of scientific information from the country, as well as access for research.
Reference: Science 303, 1742 (2004)