Update: Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotoveli has confirmed that Israel is in contact with Neda Amin, she has not been arrested and will arrive in Israel in the coming days. The reports of her arrest on both Israeli radio and Arabic news websites was incorrect.
Original: Neda Amin did not board her flight to Israel on Monday. Turkish officials arrested her and are expected to hand her over to Iranian authorities.
Neda Amin is an Iranian journalist and a UN recognised refugee who was being threatened with illegal deportation from Turkey back to her home country of Iran where she faces certain execution.
Israel granted Neda asylum on Sunday and on Monday her flight was booked from Istanbul, Turkey to Tel Aviv, Israel. However, Neda never boarded her flight.
Arabic news website al-Masdar is reporting that Neda was arrested in Turkey and is expected to be handed over to Iranian authorities.
Israel’s foreign ministry in Jerusalem confirmed that Amin did not board her scheduled flight on Monday from Turkey to Israel, but declined to confirm that she was arrested. Israeli authorities are looking into what happened.
Turkey is defying the United Nations that has placed Neda Amin as a refugee and is planning to send her back to her own country tomorrow. Turkey is accusing Neda of spying for the Israeli government while Iran sees Neda as a traitor and an enemy of the state, all because she has worked for an Israeli publication. The punishment for this “crime” in Iran is death by hanging.
We thought the story was over when, following appeals by Israel’s journalist federations and a petition from UN Watch, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said he would issue 32-year-old Amin a special visa.
“This is a journalist whose life is in real danger,” Deri said in a statement.
“Given the clear humanitarian circumstances, I authorised her entry without delay.”
Now, it seems, she has been arrested and is no longer safe. She is need of urgent prayers.
Neda, 32, had to leave Iran in 2014 after having been arrested several times due to her articles and books. One of her books, Zenjir (“The Chain”) has been banned in Iran.
“Zenjir is a feminist book about the oppression of women in Iran,” she said. “One of my arrests in the country was due to that book. The pressure from the government would not stop so I had to leave.”
In May 2015, she became a refugee recognised by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The document granted to Neda by the UNHCR states that “as a refugee, she should be protected from forcible return to a country where she would face threats to her life or freedom.”
However, Neda was sent a notice by Turkish immigration authorities on July 5, which stated that her application for international protection has been rejected. “If you do not apply for an authorised administrative court or do not inform our provincial directorate of your application to the court in 30 days, you will be deported. And if you do not want a re-entry ban to be imposed on you, leave Turkey within the stated period,” the notice added.
Neda said that she went to the UN office in Turkey but the UN authorities refused to help her. “They told me if Turkey removes my status as a refugee, there is nothing that they can do about it.
“I am very scared,” Neda Amin told German publication BILD. “I have done nothing wrong, and the United Nations recognise me as a refugee, but certain Turkish authorities have me in their sights. I cannot go back to Iran. I just want to go to a different country where I can be safe.”