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:

Natalia Estemirova | Status: Murdered | Russia

On July 15, 2009, Natalia Estemirova, a journalist and human rights defender, was abducted by four gunmen on her way to work in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Estemirova… More

Htin Lin Oo | Status: Released | Myanmar

Htin Lin Oo, a former information officer for the National League for Democracy, was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor in June 2015 on charge of… More

Dawit Isaak | Status: In Prison | Eritrea

Dawit has been held in prison for more than a decade without being charged or brought to trial by the Eritrean government. He is a playwright, writer, and co-owner… More

The Unity Five | Status: Released | Myanmar

Four journalists Lu Maw Naing, Yarzar Oo, Paing Thet Kyaw, and Sithu Soe for the newspaper, Unity, along with the CEO, Tint San, of the newspaper were sentenced to… More

Shiva Nazar Ahari | Status: Released | Iran

Shiva Nazar Ahari is an Iranian journalist, blogger, and human rights activist and former political prisoner. More

Anna Politkovskaya | Status: Murdered | Russia

Anna Politkovskaya was an accomplished journalist, writer, and human rights activist. She produced a large body of work on human rights abuses in Russia and was murdered for her… More

Xue Deyun | Status: Released | China

Xue Deyun (pen name Ma Zhe) was arrested on January 26, 1998. Xue was sentenced at the Guiyang Municipal People’s Court to five years in prison on charges of… More

Bei Dao | Status: In Exile | China

In 1989, Bei Dao was accused of helping to incite the events in Tiananmen Square, and was forced into exile from China. Since then, he has lived in seven… More

Sandeep Kothari | Status: Murdered | India

Sandeep Kothari was a journalist that worked for a local Jabalar-based Hindi newspaper. It is believed that Kothari was harassed by and receiving threats from the three attackers and… More

Ruben Espinosa | Status: Murdered | Mexico

Ruben Espinosa—along with four women, one of whom was a human rights activist—was found bound and shot execution-style in a private apartment in the calm, middle-class neighborhood of Navarte… More

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