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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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

Nguyn Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy

Nguyen Huu Vinh & Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy | Status: Released | Vietnam

On March 23, 2016, the People’s Court of Hanoi sentenced Nguyen Huu Vinh to five years in prison under Article 258 (2) of Vietnam’s Penal Code for “abusing democratic… More

Ahmet and Mehmet Altan

Ahmet and Mehmet Altan | Status: Imprisoned | 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

Ahmet Sik

Ahmet Şik | Status: On Trial | Turkey

Ahmet Şık is an investigative journalist and writer dedicated to reporting on human rights abuses and government actions in Turkey. He was charged on December 30, 2016, with disseminating… More

Mohammed Benchicou

Mohammed Benchicou | Status: Released | Algeria

Mohammed Benchicou is the former director of Le Matin, a private daily newspaper that maintained an independent, critical editorial line toward the Algerian government. On August 23, 2003, Benchicou was… More

Hrant Dink | Status: Murdered | Turkey

Hrant Dink is editor-in-chief of the Armenian-Turkish weekly newspaper Agos, a paper that seeks to provide a voice to the Armenian community and create a dialogue between Turks and… 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

Mykola Semena

Mykola Semena | Status: Released | Ukraine

Mykola Semena was convicted under the “separatist” Article 280.1 of the Russian Criminal Code, for publicly denouncing the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. He was handed a 2-year suspended sentence.… More

Necmiye Alpay

Necmiye Alpay | Status: Released | Turkey

Necmiye Alpay is a Turkish translator, editor, journalist and staunch defender of free expression More

Dr. Stella Nyanzi

Stella Nyanzi | Status: On Trial | Uganda

Jump to: Case Background Case Updates In Their Words Dr. Stella Nyanzi, a Ugandan medical anthropologist, activist, and writer, was convicted after writing and posting a poem online, in which she criticized Ugandan… More