Writers At Risk

PEN’s bedrock work is long-term advocacy on behalf of individual writers who are being persecuted because of their work. This page features several of our highest priority cases. With the help of our members and supporters, we are carrying out campaigns to win their release and ensure they are safe and can write and publish freely.

Take a moment to share information about these writers and take action on their behalf.

This is only a small sampling of writers under threat around the world. Click here for the most recent PEN International case list.

Status:
Country:

Shiva Nazar Ahari | Status: Released | Iran

Shiva Nazar Ahari is an Iranian journalist, blogger, and human rights activist and former political prisoner. More

Anna Politkovskaya | Status: Murdered | Russia

Anna Politkovskaya was an accomplished journalist, writer, and human rights activist. She produced a large body of work on human rights abuses in Russia and was murdered for her… More

Xue Deyun | Status: Released | China

Xue Deyun (pen name Ma Zhe) was arrested on January 26, 1998. Xue was sentenced at the Guiyang Municipal People’s Court to five years in prison on charges of… More

Bei Dao | Status: In Exile | China

In 1989, Bei Dao was accused of helping to incite the events in Tiananmen Square, and was forced into exile from China. Since then, he has lived in seven… More

Sandeep Kothari | Status: Murdered | India

Sandeep Kothari was a journalist that worked for a local Jabalar-based Hindi newspaper. It is believed that Kothari was harassed by and receiving threats from the three attackers and… More

Ruben Espinosa | Status: Murdered | Mexico

Ruben Espinosa—along with four women, one of whom was a human rights activist—was found bound and shot execution-style in a private apartment in the calm, middle-class neighborhood of Navarte… More

Gao Yu | Status: House Arrest | China

Accused of leaking state secrets, Chinese investigative journalist Gao Yu is serving a 5-year prison sentence despite serious health concerns. For now, she has been released from jail because… More

Khadija Ismayilova | Status: Conditional Release | Azerbaijan

Khadija Ismayilova is an award-winning freelance reporter who has worked for various Azeri-, Russian-, and English-language news outlets. More

Waleed Abu al-Khair | Status: In Prison | Saudi Arabia

Waleed Abu al-Khair is a Saudi Arabian lawyer, human rights activist, and founding member of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA). The author of numerous articles,… More

Raif Badawi | Status: In Prison | Saudi Arabia

Raif Badawi is a blogger from Saudi Arabia and the editor of the website Liberal Saudi Network. More