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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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It is clear that the right to freedom of expression is increasingly under threat in Nigeria, PEN International said today, amid reports of the arrest and detention of journalists in the country. The organisation calls on the Nigerian authorities to uphold the right to freedom of expression, enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, by releasing journalists detained for peacefully expressing themselves via their work or activism, and allowing journalists to carry out their work free from interference. One example of the …

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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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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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Mammad Aidani Iran – Out of sight, out of mind? PEN Melbourne Statement on Iran, 26 November 2019 Mammad Aidani, PEN Melbourne Committee Member PEN International has condemned the Iranian government’s persecution of its citizens on the basis of their language, literature, and culture. Iran is especially notorious for its jailing and torture of writers, such as journalists, Narges Mohammadi, Mohammad Mosaed, and Masoud Kazemi among many others. The latter was told by the judge at …

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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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