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Larry Siems, (212) 334-1660 ext. 105
Sarah Hoffman, (212) 334-1660 ext. 111


New York City, October 19, 2011—On the eve of Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s visit to Uzbekistan and in the midst of discussions in Congress on a bill that would waive restrictions on military and police assistance to the Uzbek government, PEN called on the Secretary of State to raise the cases of 10 imprisoned writers and “the deteriorating state of freedom of expression over the past seven years.”

The White House is reportedly pressing Congress and the State Department to lift restrictions on aid to the Uzbek government that were imposed seven  years ago in response to well-documented human rights abuses by President Islam Karimov’s government. Citing the cases of at least 10 writers who have faced torture in detention and remain imprisoned today, and a wave of repression that followed a massacre in the town of Andijan in 2005, PEN urged Secretary Clinton to make clear that any new aid will be made available “only if tangible steps are taken to restore and protect the essential rights of Uzbek citizens.”

“As Uzbekistan seeks legitimacy in a troubled region, its leaders must be reminded that respect for essential freedoms such as freedom of expression is both a baseline requirement for full participation in the global community and an engine for long-term, sustainable growth,” PEN’s letter states.

A full list of the writers of concern to PEN is included in the letter to Secretary Clinton.

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 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


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