PEN Expert Available for Comment on Anniversary of Charlie Hebdo Attacks:

Suzanne Nossel is Executive Director of PEN America, the largest branch of the world’s leading free expression and literary organization with a membership of over 4,300 authors, journalists, editors, publishers, and graphic novelists. In May 2015, PEN presented Charlie Hebdo with the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award, sparking a heated public debate over the boundaries of free speech and the role and limitations of satire.

2015 saw a sharp increase in violent efforts to narrow the space for free expression globally. Since the Charlie Hebdo attack on January 7, 2015, a cartoonists’ event was attacked in Denmark and at least five secular bloggers have been murdered in Bangladesh. In the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, PEN is now embroiled in debates over whether the fight against ISIS necessitates new restrictions on incitement online. This escalating pattern of brutality gives increasing relevance to writers, artists, and human rights organizations on the front lines of the battle to safeguard free expression worldwide.

Prior to joining PEN, Nossel served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama Administration where she led U.S. efforts to address the so-called defamation of religion, including incidents like the Danish cartoon controversy as well as Koran burning and desecration incidents. Nossel traveled to Paris, Islamabad, and other global capitals to forge a consensus agreement at the United Nations on approaches to address expression that is offensive to religion without interfering with free speech.

Nossel also writes and speaks extensively on challenges to free expression worldwide. She is the author of Why We’re Honoring Charlie Hebdo (with Andrew Solomon, New York Times, May 1, 2015) and Who Is Entitled to Be Heard? (New York Times, Nov. 12, 2015), and has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition (January 7, 2015) and MSNBC’s The Ed Show (January 7, 2015), among others, on the subject of free speech amid terrorism.

Ms. Nossel’s full bio is available at

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