Neil Gaiman joins authors in urging Chinese president to release jailed writers


More than 40 authors, including Jonathan Franzen, Neil Gaiman and Ian McEwan, have written an open letter to Xi Jinping, ahead of his first US state visit, expressing ‘concern about the deteriorating state of free expression in China’: The Guardian

Neil Gaiman, Ian McEwan and Jonathan Franzen have put their names to a letter calling on China’s president Xi Jinping to release the Chinese writers who “are languishing in jail for the crime of expressing their opinions”.

In an open letter to Xi, published just before the Chinese president’s first US state visit this week, more than 40 authors have come together to express their “deepest concern about the deteriorating state of free expression in China”. The letter highlights four cases of writers who are currently imprisoned in China: Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti, sentenced to life in prison “for voicing his views online about the treatment of Uighurs”, according to PEN American Center; investigative journalist Gao Yu, a 71-year-old in ill health who was sentenced to seven years in prison earlier this year; literary critic and writer Liu Xiaobo, sentenced to an 11-year term in 2009 over calls for political reform; and his wife Liu Xia, a painter, poet and photographer who has been under house arrest for nearly five years, according to PEN.

But the signatories, who also include Xiaolu Guo, Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Eugenides, Paul Auster and Dava Sobel, say in their letter to Xi that there are at least 47 writers and journalists currently in jail in China, and urged the president to release them.

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