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The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International was set up in 1960 as a result of mounting concern about attempts to silence critical voices around the world. An office was set up at the PEN head office in London to gather information and to alert the PEN membership to take action. The WiPC is now staffed by a team of experts who monitor around 1,000 attacks on writers, journalists, editors, poets, publishers and others in any given year. These include long prison terms, harassment, threats, and murder.

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Mr Mark Isaacs‪: My name is Mark Isaacs, I’m a writer from Australia. I am the president of PEN Sydney, an associate of PEN International. I’ve been writing about conflict and displacement for close to a decade. My first book published was a whistleblower account of what happened in the Australian-run detention centre, or prison, for refugees on Nauru, which included Iranian refugees and since then I’ve traveled to Iran, Afghanistan and written a book on the peace movement in …

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24 June 2020 The Australian Centres of PEN International condemn the charges recently brought in the Philippines against Maria Ressa and reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr of the Rappler news website. This is another instance of a ruthless leader, President Duterte, acting with impunity and silencing those who challenge his power. On 15 June, Maria Ressa, co-founder, CEO, and executive editor of the Rappler news website,and one of the Philippines most prominent journalists, was found guilty of ‘cyber-libel’ along with with …

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PEN International and 38 civil society organisations deplore the decision by a Turkish court to ban access to Germany-based online radio station Özgürüz (‘We Are Free’), which is headed by Can Dündar. We call on the Turkish authorities to reverse the decision, to stop the harassment of Dündar and to reform the country’s laws and judicial practice so that internet freedom can be guaranteed. On 16 June, the Ankara 4th Criminal Court of the Peace banned access to the station …

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The sentence served today, 15 June, against journalist and writer Maria Ressa, is a severe blow to freedom of expression in the Philippines, said PEN International. The ruling “undermines the already dwindling democratic space in which free media and civil society operate,” said The Philippine PEN. Maria Ressa was sentenced by the Manila Regional Court to a prison term of between six months to six years on charges of ‘cybercrime’ for an article published on the on-line news platform Rappler …

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Elchin Mammad | Credit: Mammad’s Facebook page PEN International is highly concerned about the arrest and continued detention of reporter, lawyer and human rights defender Elchin Mammad. On 30 March 2020, a few days after Mammad published a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, police arrested him at his home, claiming to have found stolen jewellery in his office. The next day, Sumgait City Court remanded Mammad in custody for three months as …

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