Writers at Risk

The Writers at Risk Committee is PEN’s watchdog. We campaign for imprisoned and persecuted writers all over the world, people who are punished for saying what they think.

Our work in 2023

Scottish PEN intends to focus much of its campaigning during the coming year on the cases of Julian Assange, Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Narges Mohammadi. Read biographies and learn more about these cases in the ‘Writers we represent’ section below.

We will also be joining colleagues across global PEN centres in supporting José Rubén Zamora Marroquín (Guatemala), Narges Mohammadi (Iran), Server Mustafayev (Ukraine), and Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe), the faces and voices of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2022, PEN International’s annual campaign on behalf of writers who are imprisoned or facing persecution. These four cases are emblematic of the type of threats and attacks writers and journalists around the world are often subjected to, for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Visit PEN International to read and share this year’s solidarity letters in support of our imprisoned writers.

The Writers at Risk Committee also fights to maintain freedom of expression in our own country. People take it for granted in the affluent West, but our rights are constantly being eroded – by government, through repressive laws and covert surveillance, and by self-censorship in the media, usually for economic reasons. As well as writing letters to governments and embassies and campaigning for freedom of expression, we take part in events to publicise these issues.

The Writers at Risk Committee is chaired by Lizzie Eldridge. Learn more about her on the ‘Our Team‘ page.

Day of the Imprisoned Writer

The Day of the Imprisoned Writer (15th November) is a chance for writers and PEN centres to stand in solidarity with at-risk or imprisoned writers everywhere. The Writers at Risk Committee lead this work for Scottish PEN. You can find out more about our activity here. 

If you would like to help us in our work, please contact Scottish PEN on info@scottishpen.org

Writers we represent

Narges Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi is an Iranian writer, journalist, human rights defender, and Honorary Member of the Danish, Belgian, Norwegian, and Swedish PEN centres.

Alla Abd El Fatah

Alaa Abd El-Fattah

Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a British-Egyptian citizen, an award-winning writer and software developer, and an Honorary Member of English PEN.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange was arrested in April 2019 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had been given asylum for almost seven years.

Memorial to Daphne

Daphne Caruana Galizia

Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia (1964 – 2017) was a Maltese investigative journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist.

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