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.

PEN America examines threats to free expression in our annual Freedom to Write Index, a year-end count of imprisoned writers worldwide. Explore our Writers at Risk Database for updated tracking of cases of writers, journalists, artists, academics, and public intellectuals around the world facing myriad threats for their writing and expression. Read the most recent PEN International case list here.

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.

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Country:

Dareen Tatour | Status: Released | Israel

Poet Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who has spent more than two years in jail or under house arrest since October 2015, was convicted on May 3,… More

Ashraf Fayadh | Status: Imprisoned | Saudi Arabia

Ashraf Fayadh is a Palestinian poet, artist, and curator living in Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes on charges of apostasy on… More

Eskinder Nega | Status: Detained | 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

historian yury dmitriev

Yury Dmitriev | Status: Imprisoned | Russia

Yury Dmitriev, Russian historian and head of the Karelian branch of the human rights center Memorial, was detained in Petrozavodsk on December 13, 2016, on suspicion of production of… More

Law Chow Wong

Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, and Nathan Law | Status: In Exile | China/Hong Kong

Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, and Nathan Law are three prominent student activists who played a leading role in the 2014 Occupy Central Movement in Hong Kong. More

Narges Mohammadi | Status: Released | Iran

Narges Mohammadi is an independent journalist and the former vice-president and spokesperson of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which advocates for human rights reform and represents political… More

Sheremet at Open Library Debate

Pavel Sheremet | Status: Murdered | Ukraine

Pavel Sheremet, a Belarusian-born Russian journalist who worked in Belarus and Ukraine, died in a car explosion in Kyiv on July 20, 2016. The Ukraine Prosecutor’s Office said the… More

Kirill Serebrennikov

Kirill Serebrennikov | Status: Convicted | Russia

Kirill Serebrennikov, a prominent Russian theater director, was put under house arrest on August 23 on charges of fraud. More

Gao Yu | Status: Continued Harassment | China

Accused of leaking state secrets, Chinese investigative journalist Gao Yu is serving a 5-year prison sentence despite serious health concerns. For now, she has been released from jail because… More

Aslı Erdoğan | Status: On Trial | Turkey

Aslı Erdoğan is a renowned novelist and human rights activist in Turkey who faced terrorism charges for her journalistic work. More