Story By: Ana Marjanovic, Sub-Editor: Michael Leidig, Agency: Newsflash
An Iranian-born journalist is facing deportation from Israel after being granted safe haven in the country in 2017 and giving birth to a daughter there.
Neda Amin faces being deported from Israel on the orders of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, according to reports.
She told local media on Monday that she has been left “shocked” at the decision and is worried that she now has nowhere to go.
The Iranian journalist’s lawyer Tomer Warsha said he has appealed the minister’s decision as a breach of international law regarding refugees.
According to reports, Amin has been told to leave Israel within a year after the security agency Shin Bet claimed she was still in contact with Iranian intelligence agents.
Shin Bet claimed Amin has remained in contact with Iranian intelligence “despite a clear warning from security officials on this matter”.
However, Warsha pointed out: “She was not arrested, no action was taken against her, and she did not pose any danger.”
An Israeli committee has previously recommended that Amin be granted refugee status in the country because she had been “hounded” in her home country for publicly criticising the Iranian regime.
Warsha also believes that Minister Shaked did not follow the correct legal procedures when handling the case, adding: “We believe that the court will recognize the error that has been made and grant Amin refugee status.”
Amin fled Iran in 2014 and went to Turkey where she reported for the Times of Israel’s Persian website.
She told the newspaper in 2017 that she was being repeatedly quizzed by the Turkish police and that she felt her life was in danger.
Fearing that she would be sent back to Iran, Amin was allowed to enter Israel on a visa arranged by then-interior minister Aryeh Deri.
While still living in Turkey, Amin, who has long wanted to begin the process to formally convert to Judaism, was recognised as a refugee by the UN.
However, she was only allowed to stay in Israel as a ‘temporary visitor’ and has been battling to be officially recognised as a refugee by the Israeli authorities.
Amin has a young daughter who was born in Israel and holds an Israeli passport, however, she fears she could now be stripped of her citizenship.
Warsha said: “I don’t recall a case such as this where the minister makes a decision that contradicts the recommendation of professionals in the ministry, and in opposition to a team of experts that studied and researched the case and made a determination.
“After the Interior Ministry’s refugees unit recommended that Neda be recognized as a refugee, and the Refugees Committee also unanimously recommended recognizing Neda as a refugee, the case went up to the interior minister for her final decision on the basis of the recommendations.
“The problem, it appears, was that no professional authority guided the minister as regards the requirements for determining the case. Refugee laws state explicitly that a person eligible for refugee status can be denied only in extreme circumstances, such as an instance of crimes against humanity or war crimes.”