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PEN International passes resolution denouncing mass Digital Surveillance, calls for protection of whistleblowers

Following recent revelations documenting the growth of state surveillance, in particular the worrying disclosures of whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Assembly of Delegates of PEN International has unanimously passed a resolution denouncing surveillance programmes which violate international human rights norms and the right to privacy.

PEN International is the world’s leading association of writers, with over 20 000 members in 146 Centres worldwide.

The resolution, proposed by the American PEN Centre and English PEN and passed unanimously at our 79th International Congress in Reykjavik, affirms that PEN International stands with all who seek to expose attacks on fundamental human rights, and deplores efforts by the United States government to prosecute as spies and traitors those who strive to bring this information to light.

Reiterating the principles relating to surveillance outlined in Article 3 of the PEN Declaration on Digital Freedom, the resolution calls on the governments of the USA, the UK and all other governments that are involved in programmes like the U.S. National Security Agency’s PRISM programme, to conduct reviews of all such programmes and bring them into conformity with domestic and international law.

PEN International also demands an end to attempts to prosecute individuals for the purported crime of divulging information about secret programmes that violate international human rights norms and the traditional and new media journalists, writers, publishers who publish that information.

To read the full text of the resolution please see:

Assembly of Delegates Resolutions in Full

PEN International also passed resolutions expressing concern about the situation of freedom of expression in a range of countries and regions across the globe, including BelarusChinaCubaEgyptEritreaHungaryLatin AmericaMexico,RussiaSpainSyriaTibetTurkey, and Vietnam. The organization made specific recommendations to governments and other actors to improve freedom of expression in these countries.

A number of other resolutions addressing critical linguistic rights concerns were passed which:

-          Opposed new measures aimed at standardising the Portuguese language internationally;

-          Called for protection of the Kurdish language;

-          Urged the ratification of the Council of Europe’s Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in the FrenchRepublic;

-          Called for recognition of the Arpitan language in Switzerland;

-          Demanded the removal of restrictions on the Basque language in the Navarre Region.

For more details on our Translation and Linguistic Rights resolutions please contact Paul Finegan at

Notes :

PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now comprises 146 Centres spanning more than 100 countries. Our programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers for global solidarity and cooperation. PEN International is a non-political organization and holds consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO.

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