100 Days After Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder, PEN America Takes Action to Honor His Legacy and Fight for Press Freedom
Today, PEN America marks the 100th day since the assassination of Saudi journalist, Washington Post contributor, and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi with a series of actions to honor his legacy, redouble calls for accountability and justice for his murder, and galvanize the global fight for press freedom.
PEN America President and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jennifer Egan joined Members of Congress Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH), Co-Chairs of the House of Representatives Freedom of the Press Caucus, as well as Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, former FBI special agent Ali Soufan, filmmaker and former colleague of Khashoggi Alex Gibney, historian and filmmaker Lawrence Wright, and other writers and activists at a bi-partisan memorial event on Capitol Hill. Egan recently penned a powerful piece on threats to press freedom around the world that was featured in Time Magazine’s December Person of the Year issue. She gave remarks at the event and issued a rallying cry for accountability and justice. Read her remarks here.
Members of the general public are invited to sign an open letter to António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, calling on the UN to authorize an independent, international investigation into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The letter, signed by luminaries of the literary and journalism worlds including J.K. Rowling, Bob Woodward, Meryl Streep, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, Arundhati Roy, Patrick Stewart, Chimamanda Adichie, Tom Stoppard, and Mario Vargas Llosa, asks the UN to conduct an investigation that would “would lay the groundwork for identifying and holding accountable the perpetrators of this grievous crime.” Please join us and sign the letter here.
A social media campaign will be launched to celebrate Khashoggi ’s life and to call for justice for his murder, using as its signature graphic a stunning rendering of Khashoggi designed by artist Molly Crabapple and Saudi artist Ms Saffaa. We invite supporters to share messages of solidarity here.
“The Saudi government’s extermination of Jamal Khashoggi is an outrage to every writer and defender of the written word,” said PEN America President Jennifer Egan. “By honoring and remembering him, we remind the Saudi government—and our own—that murdering journalists is not just barbaric and grotesque, but incapable of stifling their voices.”
“The passage of time is doing little to heal the raw wound of Jamal Khashoggi’s barbaric murder, a state-sponsored crime whose true perpetrators are not just unpunished but protected and excused by our own president and senior administration officials,” said PEN America Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel. “This heartrending case has become a litmus test for whether the United States can still claim the mantle of moral leadership on the global stage. We applaud Congressional leaders from both parties for standing with us to insist that Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination is not mark a death knell for the United States’ credibility on human rights.”
For nearly 100 years, PEN America has been at the forefront of defending free expression and press freedom in the United States and globally. The organization has led global advocacy efforts on behalf of journalists and writers persecuted, imprisoned, or killed for their work, including Khashoggi, Reuters’ journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. On the domestic front, in October 2018, PEN America, represented by the nonpartisan nonprofit Protect Democracy and the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the president of the United States, Donald Trump. The suit seeks to stop President Trump from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes.