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.

Read the most recent PEN International case list here.

Status:
Country:

Ashraf Fayadh | Status: In Prison | Saudi Arabia

Ashraf Fayadh is a Palestinian poet, artist, and curator living in Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes on charges of apostasy on… More

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

Ahmet and Mehmet Altan | Status: Convicted | Turkey

Ahmet and Mehmet Altan were arrested in September 2016, as part of a wave of arrests of thinkers, writers, and journalists following the 2016 failed coup. More

Shiva Nazar Ahari | Status: Released | Iran

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

Tashi Wangchuk

Tashi Wangchuk | Status: In Prison | China

Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan language activist and businessman, was sentenced to five years in prison for “inciting separatism” on May 22, 2018. These charges were a consequence of his… More

Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Shawkan) | Status: Conditional Release | 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

Zehra Doğan | Status: Released | Turkey

Zehra Doğan, a Turkish journalist and artist, was sentenced on March 24, 2017 to two years and ten months in prison for creating a painting of a Turkish city… More

Akram Aylisli | Status: Continued Harassment | Azerbaijan

Since the publication of his novella, Stone Dreams, in 2012, writer Akram Aylisli has been subject to an officially-sanctioned harassment campaign. On March 30, 2016, on More

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

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

Ahmed Naji | Status: Released | Egypt

Ahmed Naji was temporarily released from prison in Egypt on December 22, 2016, after his two-year prison sentence for “violating public modesty” was suspended by an appeals court on… More