(New York, NY) – In response to an Iranian coronavirus task force’s wholesale ban on print media, Summer Lopez, PEN America’s senior director of free expression programs, issued the following statement: 

“This move looks worryingly like yet another example of an authoritarian regime using the the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to constrain rights–in this case, narrowing restrictions on press freedom in Iran even further. Many countries have rightly recognized that news outlets are essential services, especially in a moment where access to information can mean the difference between life and death. The Iranian people deserve access to information, and journalists in Iran deserve the right to continue their vital work. Finding ways to ensure journalists’ safety while reporting during the outbreak is critical, but possible; we call on the government of Iran to ensure those steps are taken and permit news outlets to operate. Press freedom must not be yet another casualty of the virus.”

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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.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, sfee@pen.org, +1 202 309 8892