Human Rights

Iranian Blogger in Israel: “I am Safe Now”

An Iranian blogger, whose extradition was sought by Iran because she wrote for an Israeli publication, arrived in Israel from Turkey on Thursday.

Appearing with editor-in-chief David Horovitz at The Times of Israel’s Jerusalem office, the publication she wrote for, Neda Amin told reporters, “I am safe now,” because no one wanted to attack or arrest her. She also expressed her gratitude for the efforts Israeli authorities made to ensure her safety.

Amin had been critical of the Iranian regime and fled to Turkey, where, in 2015, she was granted refugee status by the United Nations.

Recently she contacted The Times of Israel and said that her life was in danger. She was being threatened with extradition to Iran, and feared that she would be arrested and tortured if she returned.

“I am very happy. Israel is my country,” Amin said in broken English.

Amin’s future plans are uncertain.

“In the meantime, I was saved, I was rescued,” speaking through an interpreter, she said in Persian. “If the Israeli authorities will give me permission, I would love to live here, with all my heart and soul. If not, I will respect their decision.”

Amin said that her paternal grandmother was Jewish, and her father —- considered Muslim by Islamic law and Jewish by Jewish law —- studied Judaism.

“My roots are somewhat connected to Judaism. I loved Israel since my youth; I never accepted all the regime’s anti-Israel slogans. I always dreamed that I will somehow get to Israel.”

Amin said she would love to learn Hebrew, “because I believe that I have some sort of connection with Judaism and Israel.”

“When her situation came to my attention, which was only two weeks ago, I spoke to the relevant Israeli authorities and told them about the situation,” Horovitz, who had greeted Amin at the airport earlier in the day. “I felt that we had an obligation — The Times of Israel in particular and the State of Israel in general — to help someone who is in trouble partly because of her connection with Israel.”

Amin reached out to other countries but “the only country that really acted rapidly was Israel.”

“As opposed to all the things that are being said, especially in Iran, about Israel, that it violates human rights,” she added. “I saw that Israel took steps to keep human rights, to save the life of a human being.”

Horovitz recognized that Amin was in danger because she criticized the Iranian regime and because Turkey was threatening to deport her. “There was a choice: do nothing, or see if we can save her,” Horovitz wrote. “I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I had found out that she was on a plane back to Iran.”

Horovitz also observed that though he was often critical of the Israeli government, he was impressed with the efforts authorities made to ensure that Amin could get to Israel. “Somebody’s life was potentially in danger, and the Israeli authorities did far beyond what would be expected, in my opinion. They made sure that she was able to leave.”

In a more detailed account, Horovitz wrote that Amin did not arrive earlier in the week because she was missing a required document to leave Turkey. Since she was unable to leave and her cell phone had no power,  some drew the inaccurate conclusion that she had been arrested.

Amin had been interrogated by Turkish security authorities at least six times and had been told that she would be deported on August 5. She had been fighting the deportation in Turkish courts when she was finally allowed to leave.

[Photo: Times of Israel / YouTube ]