(NEW YORK) — In response to reports of death threats against Iranian journalist and human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, who is unjustly imprisoned, PEN America called on Iranian authorities to immediately release her from the extremely dangerous Qarchak prison.

“Mohammadi’s life was already at serious risk in Qarchak prison, due to the prison authorities’ dismissive, even malicious treatment of her fragile health,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of free expression at risk programs at PEN America. “News that she is receiving serious death threats from another inmate is intolerable and proves how dangerous it is for the Iranian government to continue to unjustly imprison her at Qarchak. We call for her immediate release from prison and for her unconditional acquittal.”

Mohammadi’s lawyer Mostafa Nili recently reported that a person imprisoned at Qarchak for murder threatened Mohammadi and fellow jailed activist Alieh Motalebzadeh by saying, “I will kill you and I will become famous for this.” Nili called the death threat “suspicious” due to the prisoner’s apparent lack of prior contact with either Mohammadi or Motalebzadeh, and he raised the alarm that political prisoners’ security in Qarchak prison has recently rapidly deteriorated.

Mohammadi has been consistently mistreated by the Iranian government and inside Iranian prisons—undergoing prolonged solitary confinement and psychological torture—since 2015. Several of her most recent medical furloughs have ended with her being returned to prison before doctors thought it safe. After her recent heart surgery in February 2022, Mohammadi was refused access to her necessary heart medications. In March 2022, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor and other UN experts spoke up against the Iranian government’s treatment of Mohammadi and called for her release, but Iran ignored their pleas.

PEN America’s 2021 Freedom to Write Index shows that Iran jails the fourth highest number of writers and public intellectuals globally, and PEN America recently filed submissions with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran asking for the release of Iranian writers Arash Ganji and 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write honoree Reza Khandan Mahabadi. Previously, PEN America filed a complaint with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions regarding the cases of these two writers alongside formerly imprisoned Iranian writers and 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write honorees Keyvan Bajan and the late Baktash Abtin, who died on January 8, 2022 as a result of abuse and medical neglect by prison authorities. More about PEN America’s work on Iran can be found here.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, STrimel@PEN.org, 201-247-5057