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Eskinder Nega’s Verdict Postponed 
PEN President Peter Godwin:“We are disappointed Eskinder Nega’s ordeal didn’t come to an end today with the acquittal he deserves. The trial proceedings only reinforced the baselessness of the charges against him, and the court’s explanation for the delay in issuing a verdict—that it needs another six weeks to transcribe the record—does little to inspire confidence in the court’s workings. “We ask the world to join with us in pressing the Meles government to bring the unjust persecution of Eskinder Nega and his fellow journalists in Ethiopia to an end.” 
(via PEN American Center - May 11, 2012: Eskinder Nega’s Verdict Postponed)

Eskinder Nega’s Verdict Postponed 

PEN President Peter Godwin:
“We are disappointed Eskinder Nega’s ordeal didn’t come to an end today with the acquittal he deserves. The trial proceedings only reinforced the baselessness of the charges against him, and the court’s explanation for the delay in issuing a verdict—that it needs another six weeks to transcribe the record—does little to inspire confidence in the court’s workings. 


“We ask the world to join with us in pressing the Meles government to bring the unjust persecution of Eskinder Nega and his fellow journalists in Ethiopia to an end.” 

(via PEN American Center - May 11, 2012: Eskinder Nega’s Verdict Postponed)

"Last week, the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, handed down a historic judgment. It ordered South African authorities to investigate and prosecute members of Robert Mugabe’s government who had tortured their political opponents. Under South African law, the police are obliged to investigate evidence of a crime against humanity, wherever it occurs, if the rule of law does not exist there, as is the case in Zimbabwe."

(Source: The New York Times)

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We are dismayed at the conviction of Eskinder Nega. The evidence presented in court shows that this courageous journalist spoke and wrote only of peaceful change in Ethiopia; not of terrorism, nor of violent overthrow of the government, as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has tried to insist.

That Eskinder was put on trial at all for his writing, shows a shameful disdain for Ethiopia’s obligations to its citizens and to international law, and further proof of its alarming descent into an authoritarian state. This guilty verdict is an affront to journalists everywhere who exercise their internationally-protected right to freedom of expression.

We at PEN urge the world to stand with Eskinder Nega, with the journalists struggling inside Ethiopia, and with the 150 journalists who have now fled Ethiopia into exile. Our pledge to Eskinder is this: we will keep campaigning for your release until you walk free.”

PEN President Peter Godwin on Ethiopian Journalist Eskinder Nega’s conviction
“Year after year the PEN Translation Fund facilitates the elegant translation into English of works from around the world, helping to make important writers accessible to an Anglophone readership and to open our minds and hearts to other peoples. The crucial cultural work of the Fund and of the translators it recognizes goes to the very essence of why PEN was started 90 years ago.”
—Peter Godwin, President of the PEN American Center
(via PEN.org » Blog Archive Announcing the 2012 PEN Translation Fund Grant Recipients - PEN.org)

“Year after year the PEN Translation Fund facilitates the elegant translation into English of works from around the world, helping to make important writers accessible to an Anglophone readership and to open our minds and hearts to other peoples. The crucial cultural work of the Fund and of the translators it recognizes goes to the very essence of why PEN was started 90 years ago.”

—Peter Godwin, President of the PEN American Center

(via PEN.org » Blog Archive Announcing the 2012 PEN Translation Fund Grant Recipients - PEN.org)

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose assault on press freedom led to the jailing of a number of journalists—and the exodus of many more—died last week in Brussels. Now Hailemariam Desalegn takes the helm as acting prime minister. Will he reverse the course that his predecessor led against free expression?

PEN has sent the following letter, urging Hailemariam to release our jailed colleagues, including 2012 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award winner Eskinder Nega, and free Ethiopia’s besieged press.


August 28, 2012

Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
P.O. Box 1031
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia
Fax: +251 155 20 30

Your Excellency:

We are writing on behalf of the 3,000 members of PEN American Center to ask you, as you assume leadership of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, to review the cases of a number of our colleagues in the Ethiopian press who have been convicted unjustly for criminal offenses simply for practicing their profession.

Leading PEN’s list of those who have been so convicted is Eskinder Nega, who as you know was sentenced last month to 18 years in prison for articles and public statements expressing viewpoints your predecessor disfavored. The trial and conviction of Eskinder and 23 others under Ethiopia’s vaguely-worded anti-terror legislation attracted international attention to the climate for press freedom and freedom of expression in your country—a climate that contrasts sharply with the image of achievement and progress that Ethiopia aspires, for many commendable reasons, to project.

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BP MARKOWITZ, AT&T JOIN BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL “AT&T FAN FAVE” WINNER PAUL AUSTER TO PRESENT $3,000 PRIZE TO PEN AMERICAN CENTER’S FREEDOM TO WRITE PROGRAM

On Wednesday, October 24, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz joined Neil Giaccobi from AT&T at Brooklyn Borough Hall to award Paul Auster—winner of this year’s AT&T Fan Fave at the Brooklyn Book Festival—his $3,000 top prize, donated to the PEN American Center’s Freedom to Write Program and accepted by PEN American Center’s president, Peter Godwin, and the director of the Freedom to Write Program, Larry Siems. 

Auster, whose participation in this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival coincided with the release of his latest novel, the memoir Winter Journal, finished first in fan voting; Dan Savage (donating his winnings to First Book) and Edwidge Danticat (donating her award to Three Little Flowers Center Inc.) placed second and third place, respectively.

“This is the first popularity contest I have ever won,” said Paul Auster, “but I’m glad it came with some money attached to it so I could give it to the most important literary organization in the world—PEN—the only human rights organization devoted exclusively to the defense of writers.”

“We are so grateful to the Brooklyn Book Festival and AT&T for making this possible, and to Paul both for honoring us today and for his constant support for PEN’s efforts to protect writers and defend freedom of expression around the world,” said Larry Siems, director of the PEN American Center’s Freedom to Write Program. “The Brooklyn Book Festival is a wonderful celebration of literature and the freedom to write. That spirit infuses and energizes our work throughout the year—and even more so this year, thanks to this very special recognition.”

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