Writers At Risk

PEN’s bedrock work is long-term advocacy on behalf of individual writers who are being persecuted because of their work. This page features several of our highest priority cases. With the help of our members and supporters, we are carrying out campaigns to win their release and ensure they are safe and can write and publish freely.

Take a moment to share information about these writers and take action on their behalf.

This is only a small sampling of writers under threat around the world. Click here for the most recent PEN International case list.

Status:
Country:

Pavel Sheremet | Status: Murdered | Ukraine

Pavel Sheremet, a Belarusian-born Russian journalist who worked in Belarus and Ukraine, died in a car explosion in Kyiv on July 20, 2016. The Ukraine Prosecutor’s Office said the… More

Stanislav Aseyev | Status: Detained | Ukraine

Ukrainian journalist Stanislav Aseyev, who writes under the pen-name Vasin, was captured by the Russian-supported rebels on June 2, 2017. Aseyev was based in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk and reported… More

Natalya Sharina | Status: Convicted | Russia

Natalya Sharina, head of the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow, was sentenced to four years of probation on June 5, 2017, for allegedly disseminating the works of Ukrainian nationalists… More

Chen Yunfei | Status: In Prison | China

Chen Yunfei is a performance artist who works at the intersection of human rights activism and art. His art is overtly political, promoting the Chinese pro-democracy movement. More

Roman Sushchenko | Status: Detained | Russia

Roman Sushchenko, a Ukrainian journalist, was detained in Moscow on September 30, 2016, on charges of espionage. He has been detained in Lefortovo Prison since then; the court has… More

Ahmet and Mehmet Altan | Status: On Trial | Turkey

Mehmet and Ahmet Altan were arrested in a dawn raid on September 10, 2016, as part of a wave of arrests of thinkers and writers following the July 15,… More

Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian | Status: Conditional Release | Iran

Iranian musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, writer and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, are currently serving three-year prison sentences on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities,” “propaganda against the state,” and… More

Ma Thida | Status: Released | Myanmar

Ma Thida is a Burmese human rights activist, surgeon, writer, and former prisoner of conscience. In October of 1994, she was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in Insein… More

Faraj Ahmad Birqdar | Status: Released | Syria

Syrian poet Faraj Ahmad Birqdar spent over 13 years in jail from 1987 to 2000 due to his work on behalf of free expression and non-violent political action. He… More

Zoran Mutić | Status: In Exile | Bosnia and Herzegovina

Translator Zoran Mutić fled Sarajevo during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, just before the siege in 1992. He was a recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in… More

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