PEN warmly welcomes the release of prominent writer and blogger Wael Abbas after seven months of pre-trial detention on politically motivated charges. Following his release from prison in December 2018, Carles Torner, PEN International Executive Director, said:
We are delighted to hear that Wael Abbas has been released, although he should have never been arrested in the first place. Abbas’ imprisonment is related to his peaceful activism and writings critical of the Egyptian government. All other writers and journalists unfairly imprisoned in Egypt must also be released immediately.
PEN has been calling for the release of Wael Abbas since his arrest in May 2018, when several armed agents from the Egyptian security service raided his home, blind-folded him and took him to an undisclosed location. He was among the writers highlighted as part of the 2018 campaign to mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer in 2018, which saw PEN members around the world call on the Egyptian authorities to release him, and fellow writer Khaled Hosseini send him a letter of solidarity. On learning of his release from prison, Hosseini commented:
I am thrilled to hear that Wael Abbas will be released by Egyptian authorities. Writers and journalists must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression without fear of being persecuted. I wish Wael a happy reunion with his family.
Thank you to everyone who took action in support of Wael Abbas and please continue to support other writers at risk in Egypt and around the world.