Nobel Prize winners Pulitzer and Tony call for release of Iranian writers

A respectable list of Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Tony-winning playwrights and best-selling authors have signed a letter demanding the release of three Iranian writers jailed by the Islamic Republic, PEN America said on Tuesday.
The letter, addressed to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, called for the release of Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan and Reza Khandan Mahabadi, imprisoned in Iran for their writings.

The three were each sentenced to six years in prison in May 2019 for colluding on national security and propaganda charges. Following an appeal process, they began their sentence in September 2020.

Poet and filmmaker Abtin, novelist and journalist Bajan, and author Khandan Mahabadi are all set to receive the PEN / Barbey Freedom to Write Award in October.

Meryl Streep at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, USA on January 8, 2017 (Credit: REUTERS)

Among those who signed the letter were actor and actress Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep, authors such as John Green, Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan and Khaled Hosseini, composer Stephen Sondheim and dozens of others.

“It is high time that the Iranian state respects the free expression rights of Iranian writers, poets and thinkers,” the letter read.

“We call on you, President Raisi, to end the unjust imprisonments of Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan and Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and to release all those imprisoned in Iran for exercising their freedom to write,” they added.

PEN America is a New York-based NPO dedicated to defending free expression in literature and the arts around the world.

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