New York City, September 18, 2012—PEN American Center today expressed concern that Independent Chinese PEN Center Member Dr. Jiao Guobiao, who had been put under house arrest in an attempt to keep him from the 78th PEN International Congress in Gyeongju, South Korea, has now been criminally detained on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” a move that could lead to serious prison time.

Dr. Jiao, who is based in Beijing and is a former associate professor at Peking University’s College of Journalism and Communications, was registered to attend PEN International’s annual congress last week in Gyeongju, South Korea, but on September 6, 2012, three days before the congress opened, state security police informed him he would not be permitted to attend the event. On September 12, 2012, PEN International President John Ralston Saul and International Secretary Hori Takeaki sent a letter to Chinese authorities protesting the travel ban; he was detained that same day on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.”

The charges are believed to stem from an article Dr. Jiao published on the Chinese-language web site on September 11 criticizing the government for focusing on the territorial dispute with Japan over the Daioyu Islands rather than political reform, and denouncing his travel ban and house arrest as a misuse of energy and resources.

“We are deeply troubled by the treatment of Dr. Jiao, which is an affront not only to the writer himself but to PEN and fellow writers everywhere,” said Larry Siems, director of PEN American Center’s Freedom to Write and International Programs. “PEN not only defends freedom of expression, but also celebrates international literary fellowship, and in that spirit, we were very much looking forward to meeting Dr. Jiao in South Korea last week. Preventing him from attending the PEN International Congress and then criminally detaining him for speaking out against his own treatment does little to advance China’s interests or image internationally, and we hope authorities will reverse course and facilitate his immediate release.”

PEN American Center is the largest of the 144 centers of PEN International, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary 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 contact:
Sarah Hoffman, (212) 334-1660 ext. 111