April 14, 2008

Dr. Alan García Pérez
Presidente de la República del Perú
Jr. de la Unión S/N 1ra. Cuadra, Cercado de Lima
Lima, Peru
Fax: +51 1 446 5886

Dra. Rosario Fernández Figueroa
Ministra de Justicia
Ministerio de Justicia, Scipión LLona N° 350, Miraflores
Lima, Peru
Fax: + 51 1 422 3577

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 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 grave concern regarding the detention of Melissa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza.

According to our information, Patiño was arrested along with six other individuals in Tumbes, Peru, a small town on the border of Ecuador, on February 29, 2008. The seven were returning by bus from Quito, where they had attended the second congress of the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator (CCB). They were charged with “Affiliation and Collaboration with Terrorism,” apparently on the basis of their attendance at the CCB meeting. Patiño and her family have denied that she belongs to or has ever had any involvement in any political groups, insisting that her interests are purely cultural.

Initially detained in Tumbes at the Counterterrorism Division, Patiño was transferred to Santa Monica maximum-security prison in Chorrillos, Lima on March 15, where she is still being held. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison.

PEN American Center believes Melissa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza has been detained in violation of her right to free expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. We therefore respectfully ask for her immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you for your attention.

Hannah Pakula                   
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee    

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

Ambassador Felipe Ortiz de Zevallos
Embassy of Peru in Washington DC    
1700 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: (202) 659-8124

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