Liu Jingsheng, a 1998 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award recipient and honorary member of PEN American Center, was released on November 27, 2004. He spent over ten years in a Chinese prison for “counter-revolutionary propaganda” and leading a “counter-revolutionary group.” Accused of distributing and producing the journal Freedom Forum, as well as pro-democracy leaflets and statements on China’s human rights situation, Liu was arrested in 1992 and held until his trial two years later when he was sentenced to prison until May 2007. Just after gaining his release, Liu wrote a letter to PEN stating, “When I was in the jail, some international organizations gave me various awards, which, needless to say, encouraged me spiritually to get over my hard time there. I have been grateful to them for such help and encouragement. When I regain my freedom, learning that I have been an Honorary Member of your PEN centers, I feel deeply honored, and it is a great spiritual encouragement to me.”

Raúl Rivero, honorary member of PEN American Center, was released  on November 30, 2004 after having been transferred from  prison to a military hospital in the capital, Havana, for medical tests. This poet, writer, and independent journalist was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in April 2003 under laws governing the protection of the Cuban state. He was arrested as part of a crackdown on alleged dissidents that began on March 18, 2003 and ended in the arrest of more than 80 people. Nine of the journalists or librarians sentenced in the clampdown have been freed on parole, including Manuel Vázquez Portal, Marta Beatriz Roque, Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Edel José García  Díaz and Jorge Olivera Castillo. PEN welcomes the freedom granted to these, but calls upon the Cuban authorities to make their release unconditional. PEN also urges the authorities to free the journalists and librarians who remain behind bars in Cuba.

Click here to read more about Raúl Rivero and Liu Jingsheng in the Freedom To Write Honorary Member section.