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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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London-based Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson has been a legal adviser to Assange and Wikileaks since the start of this decade. Ms Robinson says the indictment of Assange “sets a terrifying precedent” by “criminalising common journalistic practices which have been used towards the public interest for decades in the United States”. In November 2019 she spoke at public meetings organised by PEN Sydney and Melbourne centres. Here she talks with Quentin Dempster about the realities of the charges Assange …

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Mammad Aidani Why are we here in Australia, so silent on what has been happening in Iran? Iranian citizens want to live freely in an open and democratic society in which they can work and live in peace. The Islamic regime, which has been in power since February 1979, has never allowed Iranian citizens to experience these basic human rights in their country, and in recent days many have taken to the streets to fiercely protest …

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13 November 2019 – In response to an Istanbul court decision yesterday to re-arrest Turkish writer and journalist Ahmet Altan just eight days after he was released from prison, Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International, said: ‘Starting in July 2017 Ahmet Altan was put through proceedings marred by violations of his right to a fair trial. Then he was wrongfully detained for three gruelling years. Now he is being sent back to jail a mere eight days after being released. …

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During a recent visit to Australia, Jennifer Robinson, legal adviser to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, sat down with MEAA to explain the implications for all journalists of the US government indictment against Assange, and why it is important for MEAA members to campaign against his extradition on press freedom grounds. https://www.meaa.org/news/jennifer-robinson/ Assange, faces up to 170 years in jail if extradited, tried and found guilty of espionage charges laid by the United States government. Assange, who is an Australian citizen …

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PEN Melbourne is thrilled that after six years of horrendous detention on Manus Island, highly awarded Kurdish writer Behrouz Boochani has been enthusiastically welcomed on his arrival in New Zealand. Behrouz tweeted “I just arrived in New Zealand. So exciting to get freedom after more than six years. I have been invited by Word Festival in Christchurch and will participate in an event here. Thank you to all the friends who made this happen.” Behrouz is in NZ on a …

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