June 2, 2010

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom
Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern about the sentencing of writer, filmmaker, and playwright Maziar Bahari in absentia.

According to our information, Maziar Bahari, aged 42, was sentenced in absentia on national security charges to 13.5 years in prison and an extended flogging for his coverage of the disputed presidential elections in June 2009. He was convicted of various crimes against the state including mutiny and insult to Iran’s leaders. Bahari was arrested on June 21, 2009, and was subjected to interrogation and torture. He was released on bail on October 17, 2009, and flown to London. He was among many journalists persecuted as part of a major crackdown on dissent which has seen unprecedented restrictions on the foreign media in Iran.

PEN American Center believes Maziar Bahari’s severe sentence to be part of a widespread campaign against writers and journalists in Iran who are solely carrying out their legitimate professional activities, and is in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We therefore urge the Iranian authorities to drop all charges against him, and release all writers being held in Iran in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee           

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran

H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: 212-867-7086

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