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Paul Auster Speaks Out on Human Rights Violations

February 13, 2012

The publication in Turkey of Paul Auster’s newest book, Winter Journal, has sparked a wave of discussion after Mr. Auster used the occasion to call attention to the imprisonment of writers and journalists in the country in a recent interview, saying that he would not visit Turkey as long as writers and journalists remained in jail. As the New York Times reported, Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan responded strongly to Mr. Auster’s comments, criticizing him for visiting Israel. Mr. Auster responded by releasing the following statement:

Whatever the Prime Minister might think about the state of Israel, the fact is that free speech exists there and no writers or journalists are in jail. According to the latest numbers gathered by International PEN, there are nearly one hundred writers imprisoned in Turkey, not to speak of independent publishers such as Ragip Zarakolu, whose case is being closely watched by PEN Centers around the world. All countries are flawed and beset by myriad problems, Mr. Prime Minister, including my United States, including your Turkey, and it is my firm conviction that in order to improve conditions in our countries, in every country, the freedom to speak and publish without censorship or the threat of imprisonment is a sacred right for all men and women.

Winter Journal will be released in the United States by Henry Holt in August.
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