UPDATE: On Tuesday, 8/15, Hong Kong police arrested Mr. Lam, alleging that he falsified his account. PEN America is continuing to monitor the situation and may further update this statement as warranted.

In response to the abduction and torture of Howard Lam, an activist and prominent member of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, by Chinese security agents, PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel released the following statement:

“The kidnapping and mutilation of Hong Kong Democratic Party member Howard Lam, who was warned not to send a token of esteem to Chinese poet Liu Xia, is an egregious violation of Hong Kong’s territorial integrity and a dramatic escalation in efforts to isolate Liu Xia and vilify and intimidate her supporters. The brazen tactics of torture and brutalization used in this attack are the hallmark of the world’s most lawless regimes. Liu Xia is the wife of the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Independent Chinese PEN Center President Liu Xiaobo, and has been held incommunicado since 2010 though no charges have ever been brought against her. PEN America is alarmed by reports that Howard Lam was contacted by a known affiliate of Chinese security agencies and warned not to send a signed photo of football player Lionel Messi to Liu Xia, whose late husband was a Messi fan. Lam was then accosted at a sporting goods store, made to inhale a substance which rendered him unconscious, beaten, subjected to 21 staples into his thighs, and left on a beach.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world.  Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Sarah Edkins Lien, Director of Communications: sedkins@pen.org, +1 646.779.4830