(New York, NY) — PEN America today demanded the immediate release of Chinese dissident poet Wang Zang and his wife, formally arrested in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan following Wang Zang’s reported statements of support for the Hong Kong protest movement. The evidence against Wang Zang reportedly includes his recent poetry, essays, and performance artworks, as well as interviews Wang has given to foreign media.

PEN America’s James Tager, deputy director of free expression research and policy, said:

“Wang Zang’s arrest is a strike at the heart of free expression and artistic freedom in China. These actions are clearly designed to silence him and quash his and other artists’ ability to use their work to shine a light on the Chinese government’s repression. The charges wielded against him and his wife give authorities carte blanche to criminalize any criticism, and it reveals the degree to which the space for free expression has closed in China. We stand with Wang Zang and his wife, and call for all charges to be dropped and for them to be released immediately.”