Remembering James Foley

James Foley, a freelance journalist from the United States, was murdered in Syria earlier this week.
James Foley (Photo: AP)

PEN Center USA is shocked and outraged by the brutal murder of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Mr. Foley was an innocent noncombatant who had reported from the Middle East for many years. ISIS’s appalling crime violates all international standards of human rights and highlights the extreme danger facing many journalists who fearlessly and frankly report the news in hostile or dangerous conditions.
Mr. Foley was reporting from northwestern Syria when he was kidnapped in November 2012. He had a long history working with words, graduating from both the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He fearlessly traveled to one of the most dangerous and unstable countries on the planet to report on the unheard stories of the Syrian people. We honor his lifelong commitment to the written word and his courageous willingness to put himself in extreme danger for the sake of his reporting.
PEN Center USA joins the international human rights community in deploring and condemning Mr. Foley’s murder and expresses its sincerest condolences and best wishes to the Foley family.
The ability of journalists and other writers to freely and safely cover the news without threat of violence or intimidation is a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of a free society. Journalists around the world continue to suffer intimidation, imprisonment, kidnappings, torture, and death for their words. Mr. Foley’s tragic death is the latest in a long and shameful line of cowardly and unjust attempts to silence reporters. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a horrifying 1,072 journalists have been killed since 1992, with 32 being killed in 2013 alone.

This must end. All writers have the right to peacefully practice their craft. All attempts to silence a writer using violence or intimidation are illegitimate, illegal, and immoral. Freedom of expression is a universally guaranteed human right, one that must be protected throughout the world. We once again rededicate ourselves to fighting for this principle. 


Share the memory of James Foley and the importance of safety and freedom for all journalists. Use #JamesFoley #PENTakeAction and @penusa when possible.



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