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:

Ahmed Naji | Status: In Exile | 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

Nasser Zarafshan | Status: Released | Iran

Nasser Zarafshan, a prominent writer and attorney, was released on March 15, 2007, after serving a five-year prison sentence on politically motivated charges.  More

Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioglu

Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu | Status: On Trial | 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: Continued Harassment | 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: Conditional Release | 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: Death in Custody | 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

Ali Al-Domaini | Status: Conditional Release | Saudi Arabia

Ali Al-Domaini is a poet and writer whose publications include three collections of poetry and one novel in Arabic. As a political activist, he has campaigned for a move… More

Natalya Sharina | Status: Convicted | Russia

Natalya Sharina, head of the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow, was sentenced to four years of probation on June 5, 2017, for allegedly disseminating the works of Ukrainian nationalists… More

Liu Xiaobo | Status: Death in Custody | China

Liu Xiaobo, a renowned literary critic, writer, political activist, and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was charged with "inciting subversion of state power," and sentenced to 11-years in prison… More