NEW YORK—In response to news that multiple writers and bloggers have been detained in Saudi Arabia, including Salah al-Haidar, the son of the prominent women’s rights activist Aziza al-Yousef, PEN America released the following statement:

“The ray of hope following the temporary release of three women’s rights activists on March 28, including 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award honoree Eman al-Nafjan, has been quickly dashed by this slew of recent arrests of writers, bloggers, and activists. The detention of at least eight individuals who have raised their voices in criticism of social and political conditions in the Kingdom, which have worsened under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, is the latest development in Saudi Arabia’s ongoing brutal crackdown on dissent, which rightly came to global attention following the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi six months ago. In a country where political and civil rights are almost non-existent, the blatant harassment and silencing of dissident voices continues unabated. We condemn these tactics and call on the Kingdom to immediately release all unjustly detained writers, bloggers, journalists, and activists and to drop the baseless legal charges against them.”


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: Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: