(WASHINGTON)— PEN America today welcomed the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to impose sanctions on the 15 Khordad Foundation, an Iran-based foundation linked to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that had placed a multimillion-dollar bounty on Salman Rushdie’s life in 1989.

Nadine Farid Johnson, managing director of PEN America Washington and Free Expression Programs, said: “PEN America applauds the Treasury Department’s decision, which sends a powerful message to the Iranian regime that its decades-long endorsement of lethal violence against Salman Rushdie for exercising his human right to free expression will not go unanswered. For too long, the regime has instrumentalized the 15 Khordad Foundation and aligned malign actors to fan the flames of violent—and sometimes fatal—reprisals against those who had the courage to publish and translate Salman’s literature for audiences around the world. This decision is a welcome recognition of the gravity of Tehran’s attacks on freedom of expression and the freedom to write. As we acknowledge this victory for free expression, we continue to keep Salman in our thoughts and hope for his full recovery.”

Ayatollah Khomeini marked Rushdie for death in 1989 over a fictional dream sequence in his book, The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims considered blasphemy. This August, Rushdie was viciously stabbed as he took the stage in upstate New York to talk about persecuted writers in peril worldwide, a topic that has motivated him for decades as a former PEN America president and champion for free expression and writers, intellectuals and thinkers across the globe. His attacker was an American sympathizer of Shia extremism. Rushdie is still recovering from grievous wounds including the loss of mobility in one hand and sight in one eye, according to his literary agent.

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. Learn more at pen.org.

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