Take Action: Call on Egypt to #FreeAJStaff

CALL ON EGYPTIAN AUTHORITIES TO FREE AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST PETER GRESTE
AND HIS AL-JAZEERA COLLEAGUES, MOHAMED FADEL FAHMY AND BAHER MOHAMAD

LETTER

MELBOURNE
Hon. Consul General His Excellency 
Mr Khaled Mohamed Youssri RIZK 
Consulate General of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Level 6, 50 Market Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Ph: (03) 9614 0710
E: info@egypt.org.au

CANBERRA
Hon. Ambassador His Excellency
Dr. Hassan Hanafy Mahmoud EL-LAITHY 
1 Darwin Avenue, Yarralumla
ACT, Australia 2600
Ph: (02) 6273 4437
E: embassy.canberra@mfa.gov.eg

Your Excellency,

I call for the immediate and unconditional release of journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. I also call on you to quash the convictions of the three men and any other defendants based solely on their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedoms of expression.

Finally, I urge Egypt to respect, protect and uphold the right to freedom of expression. Journalism is not a crime. 

Yours Sincerely,



LATEST: #FREEAJSTAFF

Jailed journalist Peter Greste writes about annus horribilis (via SMH)

  Grim news: Australian Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste hears the verdict from inside the defendents' cage.  Via: Sydney Morning Herald.
Grim news: Australian Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste hears the verdict from inside the defendents’ cage. Via: Sydney Morning Herald.

Article via: Sydney Morning Herald

“As jailed journalist Peter Greste describes it, 2014 was his annus horribilus.

But in a New Year message the Al Jazeera correspondent wrote to NSW MP Shaoquette Moselmane, he said although it had been a tough year, he and his colleagues had found “extraordinary support from unexpected quarters” and wanted to thank the NSW Parliament for passing a motion expressing support for the freedom of the press, human rights and the rule of law.

“This experience has, of course, been extraordinarily difficult for the three of us Al Jazeera journalists and our families, but we also understand that our case has come to stand for so much more than our freedom alone,” he wrote from his cell in Mazraa Prison.

Greste was jailed for seven years in June when an Egyptian court found he and his Al Jazeera colleagues guilty of spreading false news to support the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Greste was writing to Mr Moselmane after learning that Egypt’s Court of Cassation (equivalent to the Australian High Court) had ordered a retrial.

“This is a significant step towards the vindication that we seek, and that we know must come if a credible judicial system is involved,” Greste said in the letter.

“Although we will probably never be able to draw a direct line between the actions of our supporters and the authorities’ handling of our case here, I’m convinced that steps like your motion send a very clear message that the world is paying attention.”

Mr Moselmane told Fairfax Media the Australian government needed to step up its representations to Egypt about bringing Greste back home.

Greste’s family have formally applied for the Al Jazeera journalist’s deportation under new Egyptian laws brought in late last year that grant the president the power to deport foreign defendants convicted or accused of crimes.

Lawyer Rick Mitry, speaking on behalf of the family, said nothing seemed to have moved in recent weeks and it appeared that Greste would face a retrial rather than being deported.”

Women Writers Committee: Statement in relation to Charlie Hebdo #JeSuisCharlie

“The Women Writers Committee of PEN International, the largest worldwide association of writers with centres in over 100 countries,expresses its outrage at the murder of the columnist and psychotherapist Elsa Cayat and the other victims of the horrendous attack on January 7, 2015 against freedom of expression at the office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. We stand in solidarity with the families of the Charlie Hebdo victims, with our French colleagues and neighbours and many others throughout the world who have demonstrated in support of freedom of expression in such a moving way in the wake of this attack.

With our deep sorrow and rejection of the heinous crime that occurred in Paris, we call upon all parties to respect the feelings of all people and to commit themselves to the spirit of the United Nations Resolution against the defamation of religions in order to preserve social peace, cease shedding more innocent blood, and avoid widening the gap between citizens because of their beliefs or opinions.”

Lucina Kathmann
Women Writers Committee
International PEN
January 16, 2014

China: Two writers and publishers released

 Xu Xiao, left, with the writer Zheng Shiping,  who uses the pen name Yefu, at a lecture in September 2012. PEN welcomes the release of Xu Xiao but remains deeply concerned for the well-being of four other writers.  Credit:  ChinaFotoPress.

 

Xu Xiao, left, with the writer Zheng Shiping,  who uses the pen name Yefu, at a lecture in September 2012. PEN welcomes the release of Xu Xiao but remains deeply concerned for the well-being of four other writers.  Credit:  ChinaFotoPress.

PEN International welcomes news of the release in late December 2014 of prominent Beijing-based writer, editor, and publisher, Xu Xiao, and publisher Liu Jianshu. PEN remains deeply concerned for the well-being of four other writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists – Xue YeHe ZhengjunKuo Yanding and ZHANG Miao – who remain detained, apparently for their public support of pro-democracy protests which began in September 2014 in Hong Kong.

TAKE ACTION

Send appeals to Chinese Embassies:

  • Welcoming the release of Xu Xiao, and Liu Jianshu;
  • Expressing serious concern for the arrest and well-being of Xue YeHe ZhengjunKuo Yanding and ZHANG Miao;
  • Calling for their immediate and unconditional release if, as is feared, they is being persecuted for their legitimate professional activities and peaceful exercise of their right to free expression;
  • Expressing concern at the renewed crackdown on government critics in recent months, and reminding the Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”.

Send appeals to:

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025

We recommend that you also copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments they may have.

See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country Chinese embassies abroad

**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 12 February 2015** Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to these cases, including any responses you receive from the authorities.

Background

The first four cases named in bold below were arrested on 26 November 2014. Xu Xiao and Liu Jianshu were released in late December 2014.

Xu Xiao is a prominent Beijing-based writer, editor, and publisher. In October, Xu Xiao, chief editor of “New Century” publications, was reported to have been included in a list of writers whose works were banned by China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).  She is also a volunteer lecturer with Liren College, a non-governmental educational institution which runs private schools and libraries and was developed from Liren China Rural Library, shut down by the authorities in 2012. The executive director of Liren College, Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) honorary member Chen Kun, was also reportedly arrested on 6 October on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Liren College was established under the umbrella of the China Rural Library (CRL), which over the last few years has had several library branches shut down by Chinese authorities.

Xue Ye and Liu Jianshu are independent publishers and bookstore owners also affiliated with Liren College, held on suspicion of “illegal business practices”, possibly relating to alleged illegal publications or the selling of illegally published books. Xue Ye is executive director in charge of libraries for Liren College and the former president of CRL; Liu Jianshu, who returned to the country after studying at Harvard and Oxford in 2011, since then had been the former deputy general-director of CRL and managing Liren libraries. Liu Jianshu was released on bail on 24 December 2014.

He Zhengjun is the administrative director of the Transition Institute, a renowned civil society independent think tank which has now been shut down by the Beijing authorities. Writers Guo Yushan and Huang Kaiping, the Transition Institute’s founder and ex-director, respectively, were arrested in October on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. The charge of creating disorder is commonly used to silence dissent. The Transition Institute, founded in 2007, has carried out investigations in the fields of fiscal reform, local elections, legal reforms, business regulations, citizen participation and education rights. Both of Guo and Huang are ICPC honorary members.

In addition to the writers above, writer, poet, independent documentary film-maker and scriptwriter, NGO activist and ICPC honorary member Kuo Yanding has been held since 10 October 2014 on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Also detained is Ms. ZHANG Miao, Beijing-based arts reporter for the German weekly Die ZeitShe was arrested on 2 October 2014 after reporting on the protests in Hong Kong for Die Zeit, and attending a poetry reading by artists in Songzhuang, eastern Beijing, to support the protests in Hong Kong. She was held incommunicado until 12 December 2014, when she was allowed to meet her lawyer, who confirmed that she is charged with ‘creating disturbances’. Her lawyer reported that she is in reasonable health, although she was reportedly assaulted by police during her arrest. She was initially sent to the Beijing No.1 Detention Center of Beijing, before being moved a few days later to a hotel, possibly due to concerns about her arrest raised by the international media and the German government. She was held there for over a month until she was formally arrested on 6 November 2014 by the Tongzhou Branch of Beijing Public Security Bureau. She is now being held in the Tongzhou Detention Center, Beijing.

via our friends at PEN International

China: PIWCC writes to Xi Jinping on recent ‘wave of arrests’

Xu Xiao, left, with the writer Zheng Shiping,  who uses the pen name Yefu, at a lecture in September 2012.  Credit:  ChinaFotoPress

PEN INTERNATIONAL WOMEN WRITERS’ COMMITTEE
Chair: Ekbal Baraka
Egypt Pen
twitter: @ekbal_ba
web: info@ekbalbaraka.com
Human Rights: Lucina Kathmann
December 17, 2014

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council, Beijing
100032 P.R. China

Your Excellency,

The PEN International Women Writers Committee, a standing committee of PEN International, the largest worldwide association of writers, is concerned about a wave of arrests of our Chinese writer colleagues. Our Committee is particularly concerned with the cases of Xu Xiao, Kuo Yanding and Zhang Miao, all detained in October and November of this year.

The continuation of this wave of arrests is the motive for our second letter this month. We are very concerned for these women colleagues and also the men colleagues who have been arrested in the same wave, such as Xue Ye, Liu Jianshu, Chen Kun, He Zhengjun, Guo Yushan and Huang Kaiping, all either writers or in related fields, such as publishers or booksellers.

We beg you to intervene to put a stop to this wave of arrests, so prejudicial to an environment of freedom of expression. These people are not violent; they are being targeted for their support for protests and other expressions of their peaceably-held opinions, which should be their right. We beg for the release of them all.

Sincerely,
Lucina Kathmann
International Vice-president

China: Writers and Publishers arrested in a New Wave of Repression

PEN International and the International Publishers Association are deeply concerned at a new wave of arrests of writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists in China in recent weeks, apparently for their public support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. According to reports, four prominent intellectuals – Xu Xiao, Xue Ye, Liu Jianshu and He Zhengjun were arrested on 26 November 2014 alone. Two others – Kuo Yanding and ZHANG Miao – were arrested in October.

TAKE ACTION! Share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media

Send appeals to Chinese Embassies:

  • Expressing serious concern for the arrest and well-being of Xu XiaoXue Ye and Liu Jianshu He Zhengjun, Kuo Yanding and ZHANG Miao;
  • Calling for their immediate and unconditional release if, as is feared, they is being persecuted for their legitimate professional activities and peaceful exercise of their right to free expression;
  • Protesting the renewed crackdown on government critics in recent months, and reminding the Chinese authorities that Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China provides for freedom of speech and that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”.
 He Zhengjun, director of the Transition Institute and prominent writer Xu Xiao were both detained on Nov 26, along with Xue Ye and Liu Jianshu, a sign of growing suppression against government critics. Courtesy: PEN International.
He Zhengjun, director of the Transition Institute and prominent writer Xu Xiao were both detained on Nov 26, along with Xue Ye and Liu Jianshu, a sign of growing suppression against government critics. Courtesy: PEN International.

TAKE ACTION

CONTACT:

Hon. Ambassador Mr Ma Zhaoxu
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-6228 3999 
Fax: 0061-2-6228 3990
E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn

You can also send appeals to:

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025

Donate

CASE BACKGROUND

The first four cases named in bold below were arrested on 26 November 2014.

Xu Xiao is a prominent Beijing-based writer, editor, and publisher. She is being held in Beijing’s No.1 Detention Center on suspicion of “endangering national security.” In October, Xu Xiao, chief editor of “New Century” publications, was reported to have been included in a list of writers whose works were banned by China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).  She is also a volunteer lecturer with Liren College, a non-governmental educational institution which runs private schools and libraries and was developed from Liren China Rural Library, shut down by the authorities in 2012. The executive director of Liren College, Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) honorary member Chen Kun, was also reportedly arrested on 6 October on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Liren College was established under the umbrella of the China Rural Library (CRL), which over the last few years has had several library branches shut down by Chinese authorities.

Xue Ye and Liu Jianshu are independent publishers and bookstore owners also affiliated with Liren College, who are currently held on suspicion of “illegal business practices”, possibly relating to alleged illegal publications or the selling of illegally published books. Xue Ye is executive director in charge of libraries for Liren College and the former president of CRL; Liu Jianshu, who returned to the country after studying at Harvard and Oxford in 2011, since then had been the former deputy general-director of CRL and managing Liren libraries.

He Zhengjun is the administrative director of the Transition Institute, a renowned civil society independent think tank which has now been shut down by the Beijing authorities. Writers Guo Yushan and Huang Kaiping, the Transition Institute’s founder and ex-director, respectively, were arrested in October on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. The charge of creating disorder is commonly used to silence dissent. The Transition Institute, founded in 2007, has carried out investigations in the fields of fiscal reform, local elections, legal reforms, business regulations, citizen participation and education rights. Both of Guo and Huang are ICPC honorary members.

In addition to the four above, writer, poet, independent documentary film-maker and scriptwriter, NGO activist and ICPC honorary member Kuo Yanding has been held since 10 October 2014 on charges of creating disturbances for publically supporting the protests in Hong Kong. Also detained is Ms. ZHANG Miao, Beijing-based arts reporter for the German weekly Die ZeitShe was arrested on 2 October 2014 after reporting on the protests in Hong Kong for Die Zeit, and attending a poetry reading by artists in Songzhuang, eastern Beijing, to support the protests in Hong Kong. She was held incommunicado until 12 December 2014, when she was allowed to meet her lawyer, who confirmed that she is charged with ‘creating disturbances’. Her lawyer reported that she is in reasonable health, although she was reportedly assaulted by police during her arrest. She was initially sent to the Beijing No.1 Detention Center of Beijing, before being moved a few days later to a hotel, possibly due to concerns about her arrest raised by the international media and the German government. She was held there for over a month until she was formally arrested on 6 November 2014 by the Tongzhou Branch of Beijing Public Security Bureau. She is now being held in the Tongzhou Detention Center, Beijing.

Iran: Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh arrested

Nasrin Sotoudeh. Courtesy: PEN International.

Update: Nasrin Sotoudeh was released several hours after her arrest. 

The arrest of Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh on Human Rights day shows the continuing complete disregard of the Iranian authorities for freedom of expression, PEN International said today.

‘News of the re-arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was reportedly planning to attend a Human Rights Day gathering, is deeply disturbing,’ said Carles Torner, PEN International’s Executive Director.

‘We call on the Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally, and to lift the ban on her practising her profession so that she can return to her important activities defending the rights of others.’

Nasrin Sotoudeh was unexpectedly released in September 2013 after serving three years of a six year prison sentence.  However, the Iranian Bar Association suspended her license to practice for three years, which she has been campaigning to have lifted, including by staging daily demonstrations outside the Bar Association’s offices.  She was briefly arrested on 25 October 2014 after one of the demonstrations. Sotoudeh is an Honorary Member of PEN American Center.

Sotoudeh’s husband Reza Khandan was also reportedly arrested today, but was released later.

– Via PEN International

China: PEN renews calls for release of poet Liu Xiaobo and wife Liu Xia

 PEN is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Liu Xiaobo and wife, Liu Xia.
PEN is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Liu Xiaobo and wife, Liu Xia.

8 December 2014 marks the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Chinese poet and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for his dissident writings and peaceful activism. Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for “inciting subversion of state power” for his part as the leading author behind “Charter ‘08”, a manifesto calling for protection of universal human rights and democratic reform in China.

In October 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his continued and non-violent struggle for human rights in China. In prison and unable to attend the award ceremony in Oslo, he was represented by an empty chair – a tradition long established in PEN International meetings to highlight cases of persecuted writers.

His wife, poet and artist Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest following the Nobel announcement in October 2010 and continues to be held without charge or legal due process. Her home is guarded by security officers and she is prevented from communicating freely with the outside world.

PEN believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is intended as punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological well-being.

PEN calls on the Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and unconditionally and lift all restrictions placed on Liu Xia.

TAKE ACTION

PEN Centres are urged to write appeals during the month of December to express solidarity with Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, and all writers currently detained in the P.R.China.

Appeals to Chinese authorities:

  • Send appeals calling for the immediate and unconditional release of poet and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, and all those detained in China in violation of Article 35 of its own constitution;
  • Reminding the Chinese authorities that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right to a fair trial, they are obliged to “refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose”;
  • Expressing concern at the extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia which is harming her physical and psychological integrity and calling for all restrictions on her freedom of movement to be lifted.

Send appeals to:

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025

Hon. Ambassador Mr.  Ma Zhaoxu
Chinese Ambassador to Australia

Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-6228 3999 
Fax: 0061-2-6228 3990
E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn

Press and Publicity

  • Write articles for publication in the press to celebrate Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia and to highlight the situation for freedom of expression in China.

Solidarity

  • Elect a Chinese writer as an Honorary Member of your Centre and by doing so provide long term support and advocacy for him/her and their family. For details of the International PEN Honorary Membership scheme, read the PEN WiPC Guide to Defending Writers Under Attack  (Part V, pp 15-20). Please let us know if you do so and we will ensure that your Centre is networked with others working on the case.

LIU XIAOBO: Case background

Liu Xiaobo was arrested on 8 December 2008 and held under ‘residential surveillance’, a form of pre-trial detention, at an undisclosed location in Beijing until he was formally charged on 23 June 2009 with ‘spreading rumours and defaming the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years’. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison on 25 December 2009. The verdict offered as evidence seven phrases that he penned from 2005 until his detention—all either quotations from his many essays or from Charter 08, which Liu had helped draft.  In mid-November 2013 his lawyer began legal proceedings to apply for a re-trial.

Liu Xiaobo first received support from PEN International in 1989, when he was one of a group of writers and intellectuals given the label the “Black Hands of Beijing” by the government and arrested for their part in the Tiananmen Square protests. Prior to his current arrest, Liu has spent a total of five years in prison, including a three-year sentence passed in 1996, and has suffered frequent short arrests, harassment and censorship.

LIU XIA: Case background

Liu Xia is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. She has been held in her Beijing apartment without access to phones, Internet, doctors of her choice, or visitors since Liu Xiaobo was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010. In recent weeks, there has been increased concern regarding the mental and physical health of Liu Xia, who is reportedly suffering from depression and a heart condition.

On 3 December 2013, Hong-Kong based activist Zeng Jinyan posted on her blog three requests made to the Chinese government by Liu Xia. Zeng Jinyan has not disclosed how she received the information. These requests were as follows: (1) “I request the right to consult a doctor freely;” (2) “I request that Liu Xiaobo and I are allowed the right to read the correspondence we write to each other;” (3) “I request the right to work and receive an income.”

According to Zeng Jinyan, Liu Xia is not willing to see a police-appointed doctor for fear of being interned in a psychiatric hospital, a punishment sometimes used by the Chinese authorities to silence human rights defenders. Regarding her second request, Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo have not been permitted to read the letters they send to each other.

In January 2014 Liu Xia was rushed to hospital in Beijing after suffering myocardial ischemia (lack of blood flow to the heart). She returned for further tests on 8 February 2014 but was discharged the following day and is said to be in need of specialist medical care. Her phone line was reconnected after her initial hospitalisation to enable her to call for help in case of emergency.

PEN International believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity.

Via our friends at PEN International

8 December 2014 marks the sixth anniversary of the arrest of Chinese poet and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for his dissident writings and peaceful activism. Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for “inciting subversion of state power” for his part as the leading author behind “Charter ‘08”, a manifesto calling for protection of universal human rights and democratic reform in China.

In October 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his continued and non-violent struggle for human rights in China. In prison and unable to attend the award ceremony in Oslo, he was represented by an empty chair – a tradition long established in PEN International meetings to highlight cases of persecuted writers.

His wife, poet and artist Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest following the Nobel announcement in October 2010 and continues to be held without charge or legal due process. Her home is guarded by security officers and she is prevented from communicating freely with the outside world.

PEN believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is intended as punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological well-being.

PEN calls on the Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and unconditionally and lift all restrictions placed on Liu Xia.

abandon the imagined martyrs
I long to lie at your feet, besides
being tied to death this is
my one duty
when the heart’s mirror-
clear, an enduring happiness

— Extract from Longing to Escape by Liu Xiaobo.

Iran: Blogger Hossein Derakhshan released

 Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan. Courtesy: PEN International.
Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan. Courtesy: PEN International.

Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, known as the ‘Blogfather’, was released from Evin prison on 19 November 2014 after being pardoned by the Supreme Leader. He had been held since 1 November 2008, and was originally sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison, later reduced to 17 years on appeal, after conviction of several national security, obscenity and religious insult charges in connection with his online activism. There is no information regarding the remaining ban on his five-year ban on journalistic activities that he was due to serve at the end of his imprisonment sentence.  PEN International welcomes Derakhshan’s release, and continues to call for any remaining restrictions on him to be lifted. PEN also continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers currently detained in Iran in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Articles 9, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

TAKE ACTION: Share on FaceBook, Twitter and other social media

Please send appeals:

  • Welcoming the release of Hossein Derakhshan;
  • Seeking clarification as to whether he remains subject to a ban on practising as a journalist and calling for any such ban to be lifted;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers and bloggers currently detained in Iran solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Articles 9, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Appeals to:

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street — End of Shahid
Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
Twitter: @khamenei_ir

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: media@rouhani.ir
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country if possible.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 31 December 2014. ***

Please inform us of any action you take, and of any responses you receive.

Background

Hossein Derakhshan is a prominent blogger, known as the ‘Blogfather’, who pioneered blogging in Iran with his Internet diaries, and for creating a protocol with instructions on how to participate in blogs in Farsi language. He was arrested from his family home in Tehran on 1 November 2008 shortly after returning to Iran from several years living in Canada and the United Kingdom. Initial reports suggested that he was accused of ‘spying for Israel’, apparently for a highly publicised trip he made to Israel – with whom Iran has no diplomatic relations – in 2006, travelling on a Canadian passport. In September 2010, Derakhshan was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison for ‘insulting the Holy Sanctities’, ‘conspiring with hostile governments’, ‘spreading propaganda against the Islamic system’, ‘spreading propaganda in favour of counter-revolutionary groups’, and ‘creating and managing obscene websites’. A five-year ban on political and journalistic activities was also imposed, to be served after his release from prison. His sentence was later reduced to 17 years’ imprisonment, but the five-year ban remained.

According to media reports, the blogger was pardoned on his return to prison after a two-week temporary release, on 19 November 2014.

For the previous RAN alert on Hossein Derakhshan’s case, click here.
 

via our friends at PEN International