To mark the 2023 Day of the Imprisoned Writer, a panel of speakers close to two British citizens and PEN cases will discuss the circumstances of their unjust imprisonment, including the British Government’s action – or lack of – to date.
Sanaa Seif, Tatyana Eatwell and Richard Ratcliffe will be on the panel.
Alaa Abd El-Fattah is a writer, political activist and software developer and, arguably, the most high-profile political prisoner in Egypt. Jimmy Lai is a veteran human rights activist, writer, and owner of the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper.
The discussion will cover the circumstances and context of each case, the British government’s shortcomings in helping citizens imprisoned abroad for exercising their right to free expression, and what needs to happen going forward to ensure both individuals’ safe release from prison.
This event will take place on the eve of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer (15 November) when PEN members and supporters across the globe come together to take action in support of writers in prison or otherwise at risk.
Tatyana Eatwell is an international lawyer and Head of Doughty Street International. She has acted in a number of cases involving the arbitrary detention of British nationals abroad and is a member of the international legal team for Jimmy Lai and Sebastien Lai. Other notable instructions include the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, British-Iranian dual national arbitrarily detained for six years in Iran and released in March 2022 and Nizar Zakka, Lebanese citizen and US permanent resident, arbitrarily detained in Iran for nearly 4 years and released in June 2019. Tatyana has given expert evidence to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee and United Nations Human Rights Council Special Procedures on issues concerning State hostage-taking, consular access and diplomatic protection. Her expertise also includes matters concerning the safety of journalists. Past and current cases include those of Shireen Abu Akleh and Yasser Murtaja and Others, Palestinian journalists killed or seriously injured whilst working in Palestine; Christopher Allen, photojournalist killed in South Sudan in 2017; and Anton Hammerl, photojournalist disappeared in Libya in April 2011.
Richard Ratcliffe is the husband of British national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British national who was held hostage by Iran for six years and released in March 2022. Richard spearheaded the “Free Nazanin” campaign and relentlessly advocated for his wife’s release and her return to the United Kingdom.
Sanaa Seif is a British-Egyptian film editor and human rights activist known for her activism during and after the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Sanaa was an editor on the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Square, which details the Egyptian revolution from 2011 to 2013 through the perspective of young activists. Sanaa has been imprisoned by the Egyptian authorities three times for political activism and has had international cultural supporters launch campaigns for her release. She is the sister of imprisoned writer, Alaa Abd El-Fattah, and leads on the international campaign for his release.