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:

Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian | Status: Conditional Release | Iran

Iranian musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, writer and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, are currently serving three-year prison sentences on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities,” “propaganda against the state,” and… More

Ma Thida | Status: Released | Myanmar

Ma Thida is a Burmese human rights activist, surgeon, writer, and former prisoner of conscience. In October of 1994, she was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in Insein… More

Faraj Ahmad Birqdar | Status: Released | Syria

Syrian poet Faraj Ahmad Birqdar spent over 13 years in jail from 1987 to 2000 due to his work on behalf of free expression and non-violent political action. He… More

Zoran Mutić | Status: In Exile | Bosnia and Herzegovina

Translator Zoran Mutić fled Sarajevo during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, just before the siege in 1992. He was a recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in… More

Francisco Valencia | Status: Continued Harassment | El Salvador

Editor of El Diario Co Latino, hailed by The New York Times as El Salvador’s “only independent newspaper,” Francisco Valencia continued to publish despite threats to the staff and… More

Svetlana Slapšak | Status: In Exile | Serbia

Svetlana Slapsak, a Serb from Belgrade, is the author of the hugely popular novel Leon and Leonine. Slapsak has written articles criticizing Serbian nationalism and decrying injustices perpetrated by… More

Martha Kumsa | Status: Released | Ethiopia

Ethiopian writer and journalist Martha Kumsa was released from prison after several years of detention without charge or trial a few months after she received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom… More

Maina wa Kinyatti | Status: Released | Kenya

Kenyan writer and historian Maina wa Kinyatti was released on October 17, 1988, after serving six and a half years in prison, and fled to Tanzania fearing rearrest. After… More

Godwin Agbroko | Status: Murdered | Nigeria

Godwin Agbroko, editorial board chairman of the private daily This Day, was arrested on two separate occasions in 1995, and again in 1996, when he spent several months in… More

Abraham Serfaty | Status: Deceased | Morocco

Abraham Serfaty is an editor and political activist, jailed for his writing and political activities while he advocated for the independence of Morocco. His voice and work toward liberation… More

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