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 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:
Nazli Ilicak

Nazlı Ilıcak | Status: Conditional Release | Turkey

Nazli Ilicak, a 72-year-old veteran journalist, former member of parliament, and avid supporter of democracy, was arrested as part of a crackdown following an attempted coup in July 2016.… More

Flag Map Of China

Liu Jingsheng | Status: Released | China

Liu Jingsheng is a peaceful opposition activist and a former co-editor of Tansuo (Explorations), a journal he founded in the late 1970s along with Wei Jingsheng. 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 entrepreneur, 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 Dogan

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 Quynh

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

Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioglu

Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu | Status: Convicted | Turkey

Award-winning filmmaker Çayan Demirel and veteran journalist Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, directors of the documentary Bakur (which means north in Kurdish), were charged in 2017 under Article 7/2-1 of Law no. 3713 on… More