WASHINGTON, D.C.—In response to the release by two United States Senators—Roger Wicker (R-MI) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)—of their letter to President Trump calling on him to urge Vladimir Putin to release unjustly imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker and activist Oleg Sentsov, PEN America Washington Director Thomas O. Melia issued the following statement:

“We are heartened by this bipartisan expression of support for the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, 2017 recipient of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write award. As Sentsov’s hunger strike goes into its 37th day, his health continues to deteriorate in his remote prison north of the Arctic Circle, where he is facing a twenty-year sentence on fabricated charges due to his peaceful opposition to the Russian annexation of his native region of Crimea. We urge President Trump to do as the senators request and call on President Putin to release Sentsov from jail immediately.”


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.


Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator: agasparian@pen.org