New York City—PEN American Center today welcomed the release of Iranian journalist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, calling it “a victory for all men and women fighting for justice for their fellow countrymen.” Sotoudeh is the winner of the 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

“We are thrilled that Nasrin Sotoudeh was finally granted her freedom today in Iran after being treated so harshly in prison—a situation in which she should never have been in the first place,” said PEN American Center Executive Director Suzanne Nossel. “We hope that all charges against her will be dropped and that she will be free to continue her profession, writing and defending women, children, and activists, and that President Rouhani will continue this trend and release all writers who have been imprisoned in Iran simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

Nasrin Sotoudeh was serving a six-year sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on anti-state charges for comments she gave the media in defense of her clients. During the course of her detention and imprisonment, Sotoudeh waged several hunger strikes to protest the treatment against her and her family, including one last fall to protest travel restrictions against her 12-year-old daughter that lasted 49 days and caused her weight to drop to a dangerously low 95 lbs. Sotoudeh was among 11 political prisoners released today in advance of President Hassan Rouhani’s first trip to the United States.

PEN American Center is the largest branch of the world’s leading literary and human rights organization. The Freedom to Write Program of PEN American Center works to protect the freedom of the written word wherever it is imperiled. It defends writers and journalists from all over the world who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted, or attacked in the course of carrying out their profession. For more information on PEN’s work, please visit

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