My role in rescuing Iranian journalist Neda Amin

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Today, the Times of Israel reported that Iranian journalist Neda Amin safely arrived in Israel. This news comes after a protracted campaign by myself, Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut, Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi, UN Watch, the Times of Israel, the Israeli government and others to prevent Turkey from deporting her to Iran, where she likely would have been raped, tortured and executed due to her work for an Israeli news website.

I first got involved in Neda’s case after Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi introduced her to me, stressing that I should write a story about her case.   Both Uzay Bulut and I were writing stories about her plight at the same time.  Bulut’s story came out first in Arutz Sheva.  Then, my article came out in Israel Hayom and Bulut wrote a follow up story in Israel Hayom the same day. The Times of Israel wrote about the case as well and it soon spread everywhere.

In the beginning, Amin received the deportation order and did not know where to flee to.  When I was interviewing her, I recommended that she try to come to Israel.  I stressed that Israel had a moral obligation to help her since she was writing for an Israeli news website and this is the reason that she was facing the deportation order.  I passed around my article and her story to a number of professional contacts of mine.  Soon thereafter, UN Watch, the Israeli Journalists Union and the Times of Israel launched an official campaign to bring her to Israel, which ultimately proved to be successful.

There were a number of obstacles along the way. For starters, she does not speak good English. This meant it was very difficult on her to fill out the application for a visa to come to Israel. She asked me if I could help her to fill it out. I filled it out for her.  Then, after the Israeli Embassy decided to accept her visa application and to give her a visa, the Turkish authorities created obstacles in her departure because she needed a special exit visa issued by the Turkish Police in the city where she was living, Eski Shehir.  The rumors that she was arrested were false.  However, they did not let her board her initial flight either.

The Turkish authorities told Amin at the airport that she had to go back to her initial city and to fill out additional paperwork for an exit visa.  Usually, an embassy is permitted to secure an exit visa for one person per year and the Israeli authorities chose to give this honor to Neda.  However, the Turkish authorities did not accept this reality because the media in Israel, Turkey, Germany and other places did a great disservice by publishing everywhere that she was granted asylum in Israel before she safely landed in Israel. This resulted in flagging her at the airport and making it harder for her to leave without getting the special exit visa herself. It should be noted that all refugees are required to secure an exit visa from Turkey if they have lived there for an extended period of time before leaving.  In the end, she got the exit visa and managed to come successfully to Israel.   I want to thank everyone who made this possible!

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2 Comments

  1. Tal de picciotto

    Hi. Well, you helped bringing her to israel. What next? Did any of these people who took responsibility for bringing her to israel knows how she is struggling to survive here? How lonley and helpless she is with all israely birocracy? Because it seems that most of the people disappeared when flash light of stage went down.

    1. blank Rachel Avraham

      I did not disappear. I am still in touch with her. The issue is that she was settled in Jerusalem. I told her that if she settled in Netanya, I would help her on a daily basis. However, I cannot do much to help her when she lives so far away from me when I am the mother to small children.

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