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:
Roman Sushchenko

Roman Sushchenko | Status: Released | Russia

Roman Sushchenko, a Ukrainian journalist, was detained in Moscow on September 30, 2016, on charges of espionage, and has since been detained in Lefortovo Prison. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB)… 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

Ahmet and Mehmet Altan

Ahmet and Mehmet Altan | Status: Conditional Release | 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

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