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:

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

Eskinder Nega | Status: Released | Ethiopia

Eskinder Nega, a journalist and dissident blogger who is one of Ethiopia’s leading advocates for press freedom and freedom of expression, served almost 7 years of an 18-year sentence… More

Shokjang (Druklo) | Status: Released | China/Tibet Autonomous Region

Shokjang, a Tibetan writer and intellectual, was arrested in March 2015 and sentenced to three years in prison on February 17, 2016 for writing an essay and blogpost. 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

Yang Tongyan | Status: Deceased | China

A writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, Yang Tongyan was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for “subversion of state power,” and died in November 2017 while… More