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Turkey-based Iranian journalist granted asylum in Israel

Turkey-based blogger for Times of Israel's Persian-language website had been battling the deportation order in Turkish courts
Iranian journalist Neda Amin (Twitter)

A Turkey-based Iranian blogger who was facing imminent deportation back to Iran has been granted asylum in Israel.

Neda Amin, a blogger for the Times of Israel’s Persian-language website, had been battling in the Turkish courts a deportation order from Iran and had appealed to human rights organisations to intervene on her behalf.

On Sunday Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri confirmed that Israel had offered the 33-year-old Iranian asylum.

“This is a journalist whose life is in real danger simply for writing columns for an Israeli news site. In these clear humanitarian circumstances, I have authorised her entry without hesitation,” Deri said in a statement.

But reports began to emerge that Turkish authorities had arrested Amin when she failed to board a scheduled flight from Turkey to Israel on Monday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely clarified on Monday that Amin’s plans to come to Israel had been delayed for “personal reasons” and that she would be arriving in Israel “in the coming days”.

Amin fled Iran for Turkey three years ago but was expected to be deported to Iran in the next few days.

Her cause was picked up by UN Watch, a Geneva-based lobby group with strong ties to Israel, which launched a petition that claimed Amin had been receiving threats from Iranian intelligence while in Turkey.

“They [the Turkish authorities] kept asking me why I wrote for an Israeli newspaper and with whom I have connections in Israel. Although I repeatedly said I am only a journalist, they accused me of being a spy for Israel,” she told UN Watch.

“My return to Iran would mean torture, rape, and, in the end, execution.”

Amin also appealed to the United Nations in Turkey to protect her on the grounds that the UN had previously designated her a refugee there in 2015.

Her cause was also championed by the Israeli Journalists Association, which submitted a request for asylum in her name to the interior ministry.

In the accompanying letter, members of the association argued that Amin was being persecuted for her job and that her life was in danger should she be sent back to Iran.

“Neda fled from Iran to Turkey three years ago and she is currently being investigated by Turkish authorities for baseless accusations of spying for Israel,” members of the Journalists Association wrote in its request.

“Amin is expected to be arrested immediately upon arrival in Iran and is in danger of execution because of her journalistic work,” her brother wrote in a separate letter sent to Aryeh Deri.

Granting Amin asylum is a rare move on the part of Israeli authorities as hostility between the two countries means that Iranians are generally not admitted to Israel.

She will be the second Iranian figure to be granted asylum in Israel in recent years following poet Payam Feili who took up refuge there in 2016.

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