(NEW YORK)— In response to news that jailed Iranian writer, human rights defender, and 2023 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award honoree Narges Mohammadi has been given an additional one-year prison sentence , PEN America condemned authorities’ blatant attempt to punish Mohammadi for her speech and activism from behind bars, and called for her immediate and unconditional release. The added  sentence brings  her total sentence to 10 years 9 months prison time and 154 lashes.

“The new charges against Narges Mohammadi fly in the face of freedom of expression, and are a cynical tactic aimed at silencing her brave and fearless voice from speaking out behind the walls of Evin Prison,“ said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director, Writers at Risk at PEN America. “These baseless charges are clearly in reprisal for her tireless efforts in defense of human rights. PEN America calls for an end to the retaliation against Mohammadi and for government leaders and the UN Special Mandates and Procedures to demand her immediate and unconditional release.”

In May, at its annual gala in New York City, PEN America honored Mohammadi with its PEN/Barbey Freedom To Write Award, given annually to a writer currently in jail for exercising their right to free expression.

The new sentence against her, based on charges including “propaganda against the system,” are linked to Narges’s recent statements and letters sent to the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran as well as the BBC that detailed the sexual abuse of female prisoners inside Iran’s prisons.

On June 18, Mohammadi received notification from the Second Branch of the Evin District Security Court, the fifth such case that the Ministry of Intelligence has initiated against her over the past six months alone. Even while serving a lengthy sentence in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, Mohammadi has consistently used her voice to advocate for fellow political prisoners and highlight horrific conditions inside prisons. She has refused to accept the summons and has indicated that she will refuse to participate in what she considers to be politically-motivated show trials initiated by the government.

Iran is one of the world’s worst violators of free expression. It ranks second on the PEN America’s 2023 Freedom to Write Index’s list of Top 10 jailers of writers. Iran is moreover the world’s top jailer of female writers. The Iranian regime has carried out an especially  brutal crackdown on dissent in reaction to the 2022 protests that exploded in the country in reaction to the state killing of Mahsa (Jina) Amini and the ensuing “Woman Life Freedom” movement.

Narges Mohammadi has been targeted by the Iranian government for decades for her writing and activism. She was most recently arrested in 2022 and she is currently imprisoned on multiple fabricated charges of “propaganda against the state” and “defamation.” 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. To learn more visit PEN.org 

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057