New York City, October 19, 2009—Canadian-Iranian journalist and playwright Maziar Bahari was released from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on bail Saturday after spending nearly four months virtually incommunicado. PEN American Center continues to call on the Iranian authorities to drop his case and allow him the freedom to travel and to resume his profession.

Maziar Bahari, who reports regularly from Tehran for Newsweek and has won acclaim for his plays and documentary films, was detained on June 21, 2009, while covering events surrounding the disputed presidential elections in Iran on June 12, 2009. He was never granted access to a lawyer during his incarceration, and no charges against him were made known. He was reportedly released on bail on Saturday, October 17, 2009, and returned to his mother’s home in Tehran. He still is not permitted to leave the country to be with his pregnant wife, who lives in London.

PEN, which helped organize over 100 writers from around the world, including Wole Soyinka, Margaret Atwood, Orhan Pamuk, and Don DeLillo, in calling for Bahari’s release, remains concerned for the dozens of journalists, scholars, and activists who remain imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their views and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of International PEN, 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

UPDATE 10/22/09: Bahari was finally permitted to leave Iran and rejoined his wife in London on Tuesday, October 20.

The same day, however, Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “crimes against security” for his alleged involvement in the June protests. PEN is calling on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence and release him immediately and unconditionally.

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