(New York, NY) – Kurdish-Iranian writer and refugee Behrouz Boochani was released after more than six years of detention by Australian immigration officials, including time spent at the now-shuttered Manus Island facility. In response, PEN America’s Summer Lopez, senior director of Free Expression Programs, issued the following statement:

“Even when Behrouz’s freedom of movement was restricted, his words were not bound by those constraints. His writings from Manus have moved and inspired people around the world, and through them he has exemplified the power of the written word to transcend the borders and prisons we build to confine ourselves and one another. It is a victory for all of us that he is finally free.” 

Boochani fled Iran in 2013, fearing for his safety after a crackdown targeting the Kurdish magazine for which he wrote. He published No Friend but the Mountains: Writings from Manus Prison in 2018 while still in detention on the island. Boochani also participated in an interview with PEN America in April 2018, and reading of his A Letter from Manus Island: A Refugee Resistance Manifesto opened the 2018 PEN World Voices Festival.

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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