NEW YORK—PEN calls on Angolan authorities to drop criminal defamation charges against leading journalist and anti-corruption activist Rafael Marques de Morais and cease its ongoing efforts to stifle freedom of expression in Angola.

Marques de Morais is currently facing 14 years in prison and up to $1.2 million in fines based on 24 charges stemming from the publication in Portugal of his book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola.  The book implicates a number of military generals and mining company executives in the torture, killings, and mass displacement of civilian settlements related to the mining of diamonds in Angola.  The generals and mining officials attempted to file the same criminal defamation charges in Portugal, but the case was dismissed by a Portuguese court. Marques de Morais has long been a target of the government  due to his diligent reporting and efforts to expose corruption. The court hearing today is the latest step in an ongoing trial that began on March 24.

“Rafael Marques de Morais is undeniably one of the most courageous defenders of human rights and freedom of expression in Africa. His valiant efforts have played a critical role in exposing the wrongdoings of Angola’s authoritarian regime,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs at PEN American Center.  “PEN calls upon the authorities to immediately drop these unreasonably excessive charges, cease their deplorable persecution of Marques de Morais, and respect the right of journalists to report freely without fear of retribution.”


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck.

Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs: [email protected], +1 646-779-4822
Katy Glenn Bass, Free Expression Programs: [email protected], +1 646-779-4818
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: [email protected], +1 646-779-4830