Author and Editor Faraj Sarkuhi is Arrested in Iran

January 29, 1997 -- PEN American Center today learned that Faraj Sarkuhi, the Iranian writer who reappeared in Tehran on December 20 after a six week disappearance, was formally arrested by Iranian security agents on Monday, January 28.

Faraj Sarkuhi was signatory to the "1994 Declaration of 134 Iranian Writers," a document that circulated around the globe and called for an end to all censorship of literary endeavor in Iran. In August, 1996, Sarkuhi attended a dinner at the home of the cultural attach=82 of the German embassy in Iran, and was among six writers who were arrested and interrogated at that meeting. On September 8, 1996, Sarkuhi was also among twelve writers briefly arrested while meeting to sign on to a newly drawn-up mandate for a writers' association. Then, on November 3, Sarkuhi disappeared while attempting to leave Iran to visit relatives in Germany.

On November 12, the official Iranian press insisted that he had indeed left the country -- in the face of the undeniable fact that he never arrived in Germany. In a letter written to his wife before his disappearance, Sarkuhi stated, "I have no knowledge of the charges [that will be made] against [myself and other Iranian writers], but whatever they will be, and whatever may happen, I want you to know that I have been an innocent victim . . . . In case . . . I am made a victim . . . . I expect you to provide for the children and take good care of yourself. I give my love to you and the children . . ."

On December 20, Faraj Sarkuhi reappeared in Tehran after an international campaign on his behalf. Sarkuhi, like many other ex-political prisoners, must regularly check in with the Iranian authorities. PEN has learned that on Monday, January 28, Sarkuhi failed to return from such a visit, and that his family was told by the authorities that he had been detained. PEN has received one report that Sarukuhi's brother, who was visiting Tehran from another part of Iran, was also detained, and that their mother suffered a heart attack after their arrest. PEN calls on the Iranian government to release Sarkuhi immediately and unconditionally, and to allow him to leave Iran if he wishes.

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