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:

Ilham Tohti | Status: In Prison | China

Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur economist, writer, and professor, is currently serving a life sentence for promoting ethnic harmony and understanding. More

Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Shawkan) | Status: On Trial | Egypt

Shawkan is a journalist and photographer who often depicts daily cultural life and produces street portraits. He is a contributor to publications such as Time Magazine, Die Zeit, BILD,… More

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Mother Mushroom) | Status: In Prison | Vietnam

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, better known as “Mother Mushroom,” is a prominent independent blogger, whose blog addresses social concerns in Vietnam. More

Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu | Status: On Trial | Turkey

Award-winning filmmaker Çayan Demirel and veteran journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, the two Turkish directors of the documentary Bakur (which means north in Kurdish), are facing up to 5 years in… More

Irakli Kordzaia | Status: In Exile | Georgia

Irakli Kordzaia is currently in exile owing to the continued use of threats, harassment, and intimidation by Georgian authorities in response to his work exposing government corruption and ethical… More

Pavel Sheremet | Status: Murdered | Ukraine

Pavel Sheremet, a Belarusian-born Russian journalist who worked in Belarus and Ukraine, died in a car explosion in Kyiv on July 20, 2016. The Ukraine Prosecutor’s Office said the… More

Stanislav Aseyev | Status: Detained | Ukraine

Ukrainian journalist Stanislav Aseyev, who writes under the pen-name Vasin, was captured by the Russian-supported rebels on June 2, 2017. Aseyev was based in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk and reported… More

Natalya Sharina | Status: Convicted | Russia

Natalya Sharina, head of the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow, was sentenced to four years of probation on June 5, 2017, for allegedly disseminating the works of Ukrainian nationalists… More

Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, and Nathan Law | Status: Released | Hong Kong

Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, and Nathan Law are three prominent student activists who played a leading role in the 2014 Occupy Central Movement in Hong Kong. More

Chen Yunfei | Status: In Prison | China

Chen Yunfei is a performance artist who works at the intersection of human rights activism and art. His art is overtly political, promoting the Chinese pro-democracy movement. More

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