June 7, 2011

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Orchard Road
Singapore 238823
Fax: +63328983 / +68356621

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to reiterate our concern regarding the imprisonment of British author Alan Shadrake.

According to our information, Alan Shadrake’s six-week sentence for “scandalizing the judiciary” in his book Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock was upheld by the Court of Appeal on May 27, 2011. He will also serve an additional two weeks’ imprisonment in lieu of a fine of 20,000 Singapore dollars. Shadrake was to have begun serving his sentence on June 1, 2011, after undergoing medical tests. He is reportedly in poor health. Shadrake faces a further charge of defamation, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. His passport is being held by the police.

Shadrake, aged 76, was arrested on July 18, 2010, after arriving in Singapore to launch Once a Jolly Hangman, a critique of the use of capital punishment in Singapore that alleges double standards and a lack of impartiality. He was released on bail two days later pending trial. Shadrake was convicted by the high court on November 18, 2010.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Alan Shadrake has been convicted in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Singapore is a party, and is also concerned for his health. We therefore reiterate our call for his immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you for your attention to this crucial matter.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Chan Heng Chee
Ambassador of Singapore to the United States
Embassy of Singapore to the United States
3501 International Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 537-0876

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