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Canada urged to help Times of Israel writer threatened with deportation to Iran

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Neda Amin NEDA AMIN/FACEBOOK

The Centre of Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is appealing to the Canadian government to grant asylum to a Turkey-based, Iranian-born blogger for the Times of Israel’s Persian website. Neda Amin, 32, is being threatened with deportation to Iran.

Amin left Iran for Turkey in 2014 after having been arrested several times over things she’s written, including a book she published called The Chain, which is about female oppression in Iran.

In an Aug. 2 letter addressed to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, CIJA CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel explained that because Amin is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and because she’s employed by an Israeli publication, she was granted refugee status by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Despite being issued a document by the UNHCR that designated her as a refugee who is “protected from forcible return to a country where she would face threats to her life or freedom,” Amin received notice from Turkish immigration authorities on July 5 that her application for international protection had been rejected.

“Amin reported that she went to the UN office in Turkey, but the authorities refused to help. At present, if the situation doesn’t change, Ms. Amin will be deported on August 5,” Fogel wrote.

READ: PHOTOGRAPHER DOCUMENTS THE LANDMARKS OF IRAN’S HISTORICAL SITES

Amin told Arutz Sheva in July that in the three years she has been living in Turkey, she was harassed by its national intelligence organization on numerous occasions.

“People who said they work for the Turkish intelligence organization called me on the phone five or six times one-and-a-half years ago. Then they interrogated me at a foreigners’ branch directorate. They 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,” Amin told Arutz Sheva, adding that if she is deported to Iran, she fears for her life.

Fogel urged the Canadian government to call on the Turkish government to cancel the deportation order, and to offer Amin asylum in Canada.

“Given Ms. Amin’s work as a journalist for an Israeli media outlet, her outspoken criticisms of the Iranian regime and her human rights work, her deportation back to Iran could conceivably result in her death,” Fogel wrote.

Fogel pointed to the case of Zahra Kazemi – the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who was arrested, tortured and killed in 2003 for taking pictures of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison – as an example of what could happen to Amin, should she be deported back to Iran.

‘They kept asking me why I wrote for an Israeli newspaper.’

Members of the community are encouraged to add their names to Fogel’s letter.

Immigration ministry spokesperson Lisa Filipps said Canada relies on the UNHCR, private sponsors, referral organizations and other governments to refer refugees for resettlement, adding that “refugees cannot apply directly for resettlement to Canada nor can refugee claims be made at the Embassy of Canada.”

UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO that monitors the performance of the UN, is circulating a petition that will be delivered to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The petition, which has collected nearly 7,500 signatures to date, states that Amin “is in grave danger should she be deported back to Iran … where she could face execution.”