Honorary Members


Alaa Abd el-Fattah is an Egyptian activist, software developer, and blogger who rose to prominence during the Arab Spring. He and his wife, Manal Hassan, created the online blog aggregators Manalaa and Omraneya — the first Arab blog aggregators to not exclude writing based on its content.  Abd el-Fattah has been prosecuted under every Egyptian head of state during his lifetime. He was first arrested on May 7, 2006 during a peaceful protest and spent 45 days in jail before being released on June 20, 2006. In 2011, he took part in the Tahrir Square protests and was arrested for inciting violence. On December 13, the court dropped two of the charges against him, but detained him for 15 days on the remaining charges. Abd el-Fattah was arrested in 2013 and detained for 115 days without trial. In November 2013 he was arrested and charged for organizing a political protest without a permit. He was released on bail in March 2014 but three months later sentenced, in absentia, to 15 years in jail for violating Egypt’s Protest Law.


Narges Mohammadi is a prominent journalist and human rights defender who has been repeatedly targeted by Iranian authorities since 2009. Mohammadi is an independent journalist and the deputy director of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which advocates for human rights reform and represents political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in legal proceedings. She is also involved in campaigning against the death penalty in Iran, and is the author of White Torture, a two-volume book series investigating the inhumane treatment of prisoners in Iran. In September 2008, Mohammadi was elected as President of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Peace in Iran, a broad coalition against war and for the promotion of human rights. She is the recipient of both the Alexander Langer Award (2009) and the Per Anger Prize (2011) for her human rights work, and was one of awardees of the 2013 PEN/Oxfam Novib Free Expression Award. Mohammadi has been banned from travelling abroad since 2009 and was arrested in 2010 for her work with the Defenders of Human Rights Center. She was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to 11 years in prison, later reduced to 6 years. She was released on bail in 2012. She faced further charges in 2014 after a widely publicized speech criticizing the mistreatment of inmates at Evin prison. In May 2015, Mohammadi was arrested and sentenced to 16 years in prison for spreading propaganda against the system, gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security, and membership of an illegal organization whose aim is to harm national security.


José Armando Rodriguez Carreón was a veteran crime reporter for El Diario, a daily newspaper based in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state. He was shot at least eight times by an unidentified person on the morning of November 13, 2008, as he was about to drive his daughter to school. José had covered drug-related violence and organized crime in Ciudad Juárez and, after receiving death threats, had briefly left Mexico to live in El Paso, Texas. On his return, he refused to stop covering crime stories despite receiving further death threats. Shortly before his death, Rodriguez told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “The risks here are high and rising, and journalists are easy targets. But I can’t live in my house like a prisoner. I refuse to live in fear.” In the weeks after his murder, several other El Diario received death threats, as did other media in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua. Two prosecutors in charge of investigating the case have reportedly been assassinated. On May 26, 2011, the Inter American Press Association sent a letter to President Calderón, signed by hundreds of newspaper readers throughout the Americas, calling on him to intervene in order to ensure that the stalled investigation into José’s murder moves forward and those responsible are brought to justice. There has been no progress on the case since then.


In September 2001, 13 journalists were arrested after President Afeworki forced Eritrea’s independent newspapers to close. Those who remain alive, 22 years later, are now the longest-detained journalists in the world. The following are honorary members of PEN Canada: Yusuf Mohamed Ali (editor-in- chief of Tsigenay), Mattewos Habteab (editor-in-chief of Meqaleh), Dawit Habtemichael (reporter for Meqaleh), Medhanie Haile (editor-in-chief of Keste Debena), Emanuel Asrat (editor of Zemen), Temesken Ghebreyesus (reporter for Keste Debena), Dawit Isaak (writer and co-owner of Setit), Fesshaye Yohannes “Joshua” (playwright, poet and publisher of Setit), Said Abdelkader (writer, editor of Admas) and Seyoum Tsehaye (TV and radio journalist who wrote a weekly column for Setit). In 2007, reports indicated that Abdelkader, Haile, Ali and Yohannes had died in custody due to harsh conditions and a lack of medical attention. Yohannes was reportedly tortured prior to his death. In 2022, PEN International and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights were part of an international coalition of human rights groups that called for Magnitsky sanctions against the Eritrean officials responsible for the journalists’ imprisonment. The issue of targeted sanctions has also been raised in the Swedish and Canadian parliaments.