New York City, June 27, 2012—PEN American Center President Peter Godwin issued the following statement in response to the conviction of Ethiopian journalist and PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award Laureate Eskinder Nega, who will be sentenced on July 13 on terror charges:

“We are dismayed at the conviction of Eskinder Nega. The evidence presented in court shows that this courageous journalist spoke and wrote only of peaceful change in Ethiopia; not of terrorism, nor of violent overthrow of the government, as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has tried to insist.

“That Eskinder was put on trial at all for his writing, shows a shameful disdain for Ethiopia’s obligations to its citizens and to international law, and further proof of its alarming descent into an authoritarian state. This guilty verdict is an affront to journalists everywhere who exercise their internationally-protected right to freedom of expression.

“We at PEN urge the world to stand with Eskinder Nega, with the journalists struggling inside Ethiopia, and with the 150 journalists who have now fled Ethiopia into exile. Our pledge to Eskinder is this: we will keep campaigning for your release until you walk free.”

For more information on Eskinder’s case, please visit

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 on PEN’s work, please visit

For more information contact: Sarah Hoffman, (212) 334-1660 ext. 111