After more than four years in prison, Qatari poet Mohammed al Ajami has been pardoned and released.
The poem that got him imprisoned wasn’t even published. Someone filmed al Ajami reciting a poem at a private gathering at his home and then posted the footage online, where it was picked up by Qatari authorities. The poet was given a life sentence, reduced to 15 years on appeal, for allegedly insulting the former emir and inciting revolution.
Amnesty International and PEN American Center had both been working for his release. Indeed, PEN sent a delegation to Qatar in 2013 to meet the poet, but they were turned away at the prison. Now free, al Ajami is back with his family. Whether he will be free to write the poetry he chooses is another story.