February 17, 2012

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

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street
Vali Asr Ave., above Pasteur Street intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 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 serious concern regarding the arrest of literary translator Mohammad Soleimani Nia.

According to our information, on January 10, 2012, Mohammad Soleimani Nia, aged 39, was detained after responding to a summons to report to the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. After arriving at court, he was accompanied by security guards to his home in Karaj, where he lives with his parents. The guards searched the house and seized computer equipment and documents before taking him away. No information about his current whereabouts or charges against him is available, although his family fears that he is being held in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin prison, which is notorious for its harsh conditions. There are mounting concerns for his well-being.

Soleimani Nia has been under pressure since November 2011, when he was questioned by security and intelligence officers and banned from leaving Iran. According to Iranian-American writer Firoozeh Dumas, who worked closely with Soleimani Nia on the translation of her book Funny in Farsi, he had been developing a web site similar to LinkedIn designed to help Iranians find work. His arrest comes during a renewed crackdown on independent and dissenting voices ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2012. At least 10 journalists were arrested in Iran in January 2012.

PEN American Center protests the arrest and detention without charge of Mohammad Soleimani Nia, and believe he is held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. We seek assurances of his well-being and call for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

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
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790

His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the U.N.
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the U.N.
622 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 867-7086

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