(NEW YORK)— Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate and 2023 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write awardee Narges Mohammadi has been sentenced to 15 additional months in prison for “propaganda.” PEN America strongly condemns the persistent judicial harassment of Mohammadi and demands an immediate cessation of the punitive measures inflicted upon her as a result of her writing and activism conducted while in Evin prison.

“This latest sentence against Narges is yet another attempt by the Iranian regime to silence her influential voice,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of PEN America’s Writers at Risk program. “Barely a week after Narges received the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia, Iranian authorities decided to double down on her activism by adding yet another sentence and attempting to further isolate her by moving her to a distant prison. PEN America condemns these cruel tactics and calls on Iran to free Narges immediately.”

Currently held in Evin Prison, Mohammadi faces multiple politically driven sentences for her writings and human rights activism totaling more than a decade. While in custody, she has experienced medical neglect, prolonged solitary confinement, and intensive psychological torture. She has been separated for eight years from her husband and twin children, who live in exile. 

Mohammadi’s most recent trial occurred in absentia in December, and the verdict was announced on January 15. The charges are believed to be connected to her activities in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she has campaigned against the human rights abuses committed by Iranian authorities, as well as the mandatory hijab for women. Mohammadi refused to appear at her trial, stating, “The revolutionary court is the slaughterhouse of the youth of Iran, and I will not set foot in this slaughterhouse. I refuse to grant credibility or authority to judges affiliated with secret services and courts that engage in staged trials.” In addition to extending her prison sentence, Mohammadi was given a two-year travel ban, a two-year ban on political party membership, and a two-year ban on smartphone use. The Ministry of Intelligence submitted a request that the sentence be served outside of Tehran, potentially subjecting Mohammadi to a transfer to another prison.

Iran is one of the world’s worst violators of free expression, ranking second on PEN America’s 2023 Freedom to Write Index’s list of top 10 jailers of writers. It is also the world’s top jailer of female writers. In reaction to the massive 2022 protests that followed the state killing of Mahsa (Jina) Amini and the ensuing “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement, the Iranian regime has carried out a prolonged crackdown on dissent, ensnaring and threatening dozens of writers and artists. 

“At this time of great uncertainty and discord, the Iranian people desperately need their culture and their thinkers. Freedom of expression is both a human right and a human instinct which can not be extinguished. It is time that the Iranian authorities stopped persecuting artists, writers, and other cultural workers, who are foundational to a healthy society,” concluded Karlekar.

More about PEN America’s work on Iran can be found here.

About PEN America

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.