(New York, NY) — PEN America today welcomes the news that the New York Public Library has declined to host an event sponsored by Saudi Arabia, in particular by a foundation funded by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The following statement is attributable to Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America:

“The New York Public Library has made the right choice to decline hosting this event sponsored by Saudi Arabia, in particular by a man whose government apparatus orchestrated the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The library is the crown jewel of the literary community in New York and indeed the nation. But it’s also an institution that stands for the free exchange of ideas and free expression, qualities that the Crown Prince has repeatedly disdained in both words and actions. In particular, the orchestrated murder of Jamal Khashoggi is just part of a broad, repressive campaign against dissent and against those who dare cross the prince. Hosting this event just days before the anniversary of Jamal’s killing would have been particularly appalling not just for his family, friends, and colleagues, but also for those currently being persecuted in the kingdom, including our 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write honorees Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan. These three women have been imprisoned and subjected to torture, abuse, and solitary confinement for their work advocating for women’s rights. To have allowed the man responsible for their persecution to paper over his crimes by exploiting the reputation of the New York Public Library would have been an affront to all. This was the right call.”

Read more about our work around the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, as well as our campaign to exonerate three Saudi writers and women’s right activists.


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