(New York, NY) – The U.S. Navy announced today that it has relieved of duty Capt. Brett Crozier, who raised the alarm about a coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship he commanded. PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the following:

“While we understand the need for discipline in the military, the summary dismissal from command of Navy Capt. Brett Crozier should send a chill down the spine of every American who values the First Amendment. Speaking out earnestly on a grave matter of health and safety for the sailors under his command in the midst of a life-threatening pandemic was an act of conscience and compassion. To be penalized for that is shameful. The navy’s action today demonstrates that this administration’s ‘shoot the messenger’ approach to handling its own failings has now taken hold in the U.S. military as well. Our leaders have lost sight of the fact that there are values higher in this country than the preservation of their reputations.”


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