Turkey will not deport Iranian journalist Mohammad Mosaed back to Iran, security sources have revealed. Instead, he is being allowed to remain while his application for asylum is processed,
According to a statement released on Monday by the Washington-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Mosaed was arrested by the Turkish authorities at the weekend for entering the country illegally.
The Iranian authorities sentenced him in August to four years in prison on charges of "colluding against national security" and "spreading propaganda against the system." His sentence, he was told at the time, would start after two days.
Mosaed then fled from Iran and arrived in the Turkish city of Van, where he alerted the Turkish authorities to his presence in the country by calling the emergency services on Sunday to save him from freezing to death. The award-winning journalist was detained by police and he contacted the CPJ and filed an application for international protection that was received by the authorities in Van.
"We believe that Mohammad Mosaed has a well-founded fear of persecution should he be returned to Iran," said Sherif Mansour, the CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Coordinator. He called on the Turkish government to respect its obligations under international law; to refrain from deporting Mosaed; to consider any request for political asylum that he may make; and to assure that his rights are protected through due process of law.
According to a security source, Turkey won't deport him. "There is capital punishment in Iran and he is a journalist, not a mobster," the source told Middle East Eye.
In recent years, numerous Iranian dissidents and activists have sought refuge in Turkey fearing persecution in their home country. The government in Ankara has often refused to deport such dissidents. Iranian activist Maryam Shariatmadari, for example, was not deported when her residency permit expired last year.
There have, however, been a number of cases in Turkey where dissidents have been assassinated or kidnapped by Iranian agents. Dissident and former intelligence agent Masoud Maulavi Vardanjani was assassinated in Istanbul in November 2019, a killing apparently instigated by Iranian diplomats in the country.
A year later, the Ahvazi activist Habib Chaab was abducted in Istanbul by Iranian agents and smuggled across the border into Iran where he is being held in detention.