(New York, NY) — PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) has joined a statement from a wide range of human rights and artistic groups condemning the death sentence of a Nigerian musician and calling for his immediate release.

On August 10, a court in Nigeria’s Kano state sentenced singer Yahaya Sharif Aminu to death by hanging for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad in a song he circulated on WhatsApp in February.

While Sharif was legally represented during the trial, the proceedings were reportedly closed off to the public. The right to a public trial is guaranteed under Nigeria’s constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. PEN America is further concerned by reports that, since his conviction, Sharif is being held in incommunicado detention with no access to legal representation or to his immediate family. PEN America today said his conviction and subsequent detention are blatant and alarming violations of Sharif’s fundamental right to freedom of expression.

The join statement calling for his release and access to counsel includes the Committee for Relevant Art, AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network), African Human Rights Network,  Alert-Art-Afrik, Arterial Network Nigeria, Culture Advocates Caucus, Freemuse, Human Rights Forum of Lead Africa International, Intro Afrika, Hammerl Arts Rights Transfer, PEN Nigeria, PEN Uganda, and Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders.

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection, a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.