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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Stanislav Aseyev

Stanislav Aseyev | Status: Released | Ukraine

Ukrainian journalist Stanislav Aseyev, who writes under the pen name Vasin, was captured by Russian-supported rebels on June 2, 2017. Aseyev was based in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk and… More

Oleh Halaziuk | Status: Released | Ukraine

Oleh Halaziuk, a columnist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), has been detained since August 2017 by Russian-supported rebels in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine.  More

Chen Yunfei

Chen Yunfei | Status: Conditional Release | China

Chen Yunfei is a performance artist who works at the intersection of human rights activism and art. His art is overtly political, promoting the Chinese pro-democracy movement. More

Alaa Abd El Fattah | Status: Detained | Egypt

Alaa Abd El Fattah is an Egyptian activist, software developer, and blogger. After being sentenced to a month of jail in absentia, he received a five years sentence in… More

Liu Xia | Status: In Exile | China

Liu Xia, poet and artist, was married to the imprisoned poet, literary critic, former Independent Chinese PEN Center president, and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who passed away in July… More

Roman Sushchenko

Roman Sushchenko | Status: Released | Russia

Roman Sushchenko, a Ukrainian journalist, was detained in Moscow on September 30, 2016, on charges of espionage, and has since been detained in Lefortovo Prison. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB)… More

Nazli Ilicak

Nazlı Ilıcak | Status: Conditional Release | Turkey

Nazli Ilicak, a 72-year-old veteran journalist, former member of parliament, and avid supporter of democracy, was arrested as part of a crackdown following an attempted coup in July 2016.… More

Flag Map Of China

Liu Jingsheng | Status: Released | China

Liu Jingsheng is a peaceful opposition activist and a former co-editor of Tansuo (Explorations), a journal he founded in the late 1970s along with Wei Jingsheng. More

Shiva Nazar Ahari | Status: Released | Iran

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