Bahrain should take immediate steps to reinstate nationality for writers unduly stripped of their citizenship, PEN American Center said in a statement today.

On Saturday, January 31, the Ministry of the Interior of Bahrain released a statement publicly revoking the citizenship of 74 Bahraini nationals on unfounded charges of spying for foreign countries, defaming the regime and “brotherly countries,” and acts of terrorism. Among the group, which received no trial or official correspondence about the revocations, are blogger Ali Abdulemam, writer and cultural critic Ali Aldairy, and journalist Abbas Busafwan, all of whom live in exile after facing earlier persecution for their work.

“Bahrain has proven it will go to any lengths to hide its ongoing human rights abuses from the world,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN American Center. “Previous attempts to silence internal dissent through the arrest, torture, and exile of Bahraini writers have failed, leading the government to new tactics that aim to discredit its critics by suggesting that they are not ‘real’ Bahrainis.”

“It is the role of the writer to hold up a mirror to their own society,” said Nossel. “The Ministry of the Interior should take immediate steps to restore Bahrain nationality for writers unjustly stripped of their citizenship and to allow them to continue their work unhindered.”


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 3,900 U.S. writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide.

Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager:, 646-779-4830