NEW YORK, NY December 31, 2009 —Writers from the PEN American Center, an advocacy group that works to defend free expression around the world, staged a New Year’s Eve rally this morning on the steps of the New York Public Library. They gathered to protest the imprisonment of writer Liu Xiaobo in China.

E.L. Doctorow, Edward Albee, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and dozens of other writers gathered in the falling snow to show support for their colleague, the Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison last week for writings that the Chinese government called subversive. PEN President Kwame Anthony Appiah said the sentence was a travesty, and encouraged writers around the world to become advocates for one of their own.

“We ask all of you gathered here, all of you who hear this appeal, to join us in our campaign. Old friend, we will not forget you, we will not rest until you are free,” he said.

Liu was convicted after co-authoring Charter 08, a petition calling for political and human rights reforms in China, and for publishing seven sentences on the Internet that were critical of Chinese authorities. After the event, Pen delivered a letter to the Chinese Mission to the United Nations, calling on Chinese President Hu Jintao to intervene in the case.