November 14, 2013 | By Jillian York

November 15: The Day of the Imprisoned Writer

Censorship affects writers, journalists, and bloggers around the world, in various ways.  In some cases, censorship is state-sanctioned: on books, websites, and other forms of media.  Elsewhere (including in the United States), it’s self-imposed.  And in many countries, writers face threats more severe than censorship of their written word, including imprisonment.

Today, PEN—an international writer’s organization that strives to protect the rights of writers around the world—is marking the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, a tradition started in 1981 and observed annually by PEN member organizations all over the world.

Among the cases PEN is highlighting this year is that of Lê Quốc Quân, the Vietnamese blogger, activist, and attorney whose release EFF has campaigned for over the past year.  Quân was arrested by the Vietnamese government in December 2012 on charges of tax evasion and sentenced to 30 months in prison.  Numerous groups have alleged that the charges against him were fabricated, and dozens of rights groups—as well as ten US representatives—have called for his release.

Lê Quốc Quân’s story is only one of many.  There is Ali Anouzla, the Moroccan journalist who despite being recently released on bail still faces charges of aiding terrorism.  There is Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega, currently serving the second year of an 18-year prison sentence for his writing.  And there are so many more.

EFF works with Global Voices Advocacy to track cases of threatened voices around the world, including bloggers, journalists, activists, and anyone facing threats for online speech.  We believe often, raising awareness about a given case can truly have an impact on its outcome.  That’s why, today, we join PEN in observing the Day of the Imprisoned Writer.  Please join us. For more information on how you can get involved, visit PEN's website.


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