NEW YORK—In response to recent reports that Iranian writer, human rights lawyer, and 2011 PEN/Freedom to Write Award honoree Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to a combined total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes, PEN America Free Expression at Risk Programs Director Karin Karlekar issued the following statement:

“This astonishingly harsh sentence for Nasrin Sotoudeh defies all reason. After months of detention and a frustratingly opaque legal process, the decision to condemn Nasrin to decades behind bars for her unflinching defense of the rule of law is a cruel blow. Even now the exact details of the charges she faced and the terms of her sentence remain in question, demonstrating the total absence of a fair trial. We once again call on the Iranian government to uphold the due process rights of human rights activists, to clarify the exact terms of this horrific verdict, and to immediately and unconditionally exonerate and release Nasrin Sotoudeh for her legitimate dissent.”

Sotoudeh has spent several previous stints in prison on politically-motivated charges, most recently from 2011 to 2013, during which period she received the Freedom to Write Award.


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: Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: