August 18, 2009

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Mr. Meng Jianzhu
Minister of the Public Security
East Chang’an Avenue 14
Beijing 100741
P.R. China

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 welcome the early release of writer Zhang Lin.

According to our information, Zhang Lin was released from Nanjiao Prison in Hefei City, Anhui Province, on August 12, 2009, due to good conduct. Zhang, now aged 46, spent over 4 1/2 years in jail. The official indictment issued by the Bengbu authorities stated that he was arrested because of a number of “subversive” articles he had written and subsequently posted online between August 2003 and January 2005. During his imprisonment, Zhang reportedly suffered harsh treatment, including long hours of forced labor, restricted access to correspondence with his wife, and denial of news and writing materials. He has been repeatedly imprisoned in the past for his dissident political activities. Zhang still faces another four years’ deprivation of political rights.

While PEN American Center welcomes the release of Zhang Lin, we are concerned that over 40 other writers are still being held in China solely for the peaceful expression of their views. We therefore reiterate our call for the release of all writers imprisoned in violation of their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H. E. Mr. Zhou Wenzhong
Ambassador of the PRC to the U.S.
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20007
Fax: (202) 588-9760

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