Larry Siems is the Knight First Amendment Institute’s chief of staff. He helps guide the Institute’s program strategy and evaluation and organizational planning.
Siems’s career in human rights and free expression advocacy includes 17 years directing Freedom to Write and International Programs for PEN, the international writers’ organization. At PEN, he designed and coordinated global campaigns to protect writers and defend the right of all to freedom of expression, and supported the efforts of writers in more than a dozen countries to defend journalism, literature, and free speech. Notable initiatives included an investigation of the role of Royal Dutch Shell in the judicial execution of writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other environmental and indigenous rights activists in Nigeria, an international campaign to award Chinese writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize, and PEN America’s Campaign for Core Freedoms to address threats to freedom of expression in the United States following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Siems is also a writer and journalist who has published widely on immigration and cross-cultural issues and on human rights and free expression violations in the U.S. and around the world. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, Granta, The Nation, and Aztlán, Epoch, and Southern Poetry Review, and his books include Between the Lines: Letters Between Mexican and Central American Immigrants and Their Families and Friends and The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post-9/11 Torture Program. He also edited, annotated, and introduced Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s internationally-acclaimed Guantánamo Diary, and collaborated with Slahi on his new novel, The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga.
Siems has a B.A. in English and Classical Greek from the University of Notre Dame and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition Against Censorship.
A Promising Start
The new administration takes steps to reaffirm transparency and press freedomBy Larry Siems
A First Amendment agenda for Biden's first 100 days
How the new administration can reaffirm the freedoms of speech, association, and petition in its first 100 daysBy Larry Siems & Jameel Jaffer
Intelligence, Ethics and Bureaucracy: The Duty to Warn Jamal Khashoggi
Documents released through FOIA litigation raise new questions about how intelligence agencies handled intercepted threatsBy Larry Siems