PEN American Center has named jailed Iranian lawyer, writer and women’s rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh as the recipient of its 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

The award honors international literary figures who have been persecuted or imprisoned for exercising or defending the right to freedom of expression.

Sotoudeh, the mother of two young children, is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for her advocacy and defense of political prisoners.

PEN said in a statement issued on April 13 that Sotoudeh’s close friend and associate Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi will receive the award on her behalf during an April 26 PEN gala dinner in New York.

In announcing the award, PEN’s Freedom to Write Program Director Larry Siems praised Nasrin Sotoudeh’s “unyielding spirit in her fight for justice, equality, and the rule of law in Iran.”