Turkey: IFJ calls on authorities not to extradite two Iranian journalists

Turkish authorities have told Iranian journalists Arash Yavari and his wife Masoomeh Hatamkhani, who is also a journalist, to leave the country and go back to Iran despite having UN refugee status. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on the Turkish authorities not to deport both journalists and respect international refugee law.

Credits: OZAN KOSE / AFP

Both journalists and their son had to flee Iran in 2015 after suffering threats, intimidation and harassment from the authorities for years.

In 2012, Arash YavariI was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, 74 lashes and permanent deprivation of political, media and cultural activity. Authorities charged him with "propaganda against the regime, insulting the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and virtual activity in violation of Islamic principles" due to his reporting for Agence France Press (AFP).

Both journalists and their 13-year old son fled to Turkey where they have been living after obtaining UN refugee status. However, the problems continued, Arash YavariI told the IFJ.

"During this time in Turkey, we have not been relieved of problems such as the theft of my home appliances and identity documents and beatings, attacks and threats by unknown individuals and by Islamic Republic agents," Arash claimed.

The family was granted asylum status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Still, the Turkish Migration Board decided to close their case and gave them a ten-month tourist residence permit that will not be extended. Once this residence permission is over, they will have to go back to Iran, where their wellbeing will be at serious risk.

The IFJ sent a letter to the UNCHR headquarters and the regional office in Turkey, urging them to press the Turkish authorities on the need to comply with their international obligations towards them as people under UN protection.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "Iran has a long record of press freedom and human rights' violations. We call on the UNCHR to do their utmost and prevent the deportation of Arash Yavari, Masoomeh Hatamkhani and their son to Iran, where their safety will be in serious danger."

Other Iranian journalists are in a similar situation in Turkey. Another couple of journalists, who are members of the IFJ affiliate in Iran, and live in Turkey with their six years old son since 2017 were also recently told by Turkish authorities that their case was closed and they risk being deported if their appeal is not successful. Both journalists have told the IFJ not to disclose their identity fearing reprisals against their families in Iran.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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