Turkish authorities arrested an Iranian human rights activist on Thursday as he was getting off a plane from Germany at Istanbul's airport, and are threatening to deport him to Iran.
The activist, Dr. Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, fled Iran in 2003 and has become an outspoken opponent of the Tehran regime.
Newsmax reached him shortly before 6 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday on his mobile phone while he was in a holding cell at the Istanbul airport, shortly after an Iranian intelligence officer arrived on scene demanding that the Turks extradite him to Iran.
The Iranian intelligence officer, who identified himself as Mohammad Taghi Esfahani, presented an official document to the Turkish police demanding that Ebrahimi be immediately deported to Iran.
Ebrahimi told Newsmax that he fled Iran illegally in 2003 for fear of persecution. “My friends told me that if I was arrested, I would not get out of jail alive,” he said. “These are people in government who you call reformists.”
Pooya Dayanim, an Iranian activist in Los Angeles, told Newsmax that he had “no doubt” that Ebrahimi “will surely be tortured and killed” if the Turks sent him back to Iran.
“If anything, he should be sent back to Germany, where he has been granted political asylum and where he is a legal resident,” Dayanim told Newsmax.
In a subsequent call from his mobile, Dr. Ebrahimi said that a Turkish lawyer he had called for help had come to the airport, but was not allowed by the Turkish authorities to visit him.
After she tried to reach him, Dr. Ebrahimi says that he was beaten by the Turkish guards, then locked in a bathroom in the detention center.
Ebrahimi fell afoul of the Iranian authorities when he disobeyed orders to attack protesting students at Tehran University in July 1999 and instead made a film exposing the activities of the secret unit of the Revolutionary Guards, to which he had belonged.
He was jailed for nearly two years after making the film, which was in the form of on-camera “confessions” he made in the offices of Tehran lawyer Shirin Ebadi. Ebadi was later awarded the Nobel Peace prize for her role in Ebrahimi’s exposé of the regime’s misdeeds.
Ebrahimi told Newsmax that the Iranian intelligence officer was accusing him of having aided the defection of former deputy Defense Minister Gen. Ali Asghari last year.
Asghari is believed to have provided critical intelligence to the U.S. government and to the government of France relating to Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons programs and on Iran’s terrorist activities.
Dayanim issued an urgent appeal to U.S. officials and international human rights organizations to “immediately contact” Turkish embassies, consulates, the Turkish interior and intelligence service to stop Turkey from deporting a German resident back to Iran.”
He pointed out that since Turkey “wants to be a part of the civilized world” and is trying to gain entry to the European Union, it should send Ebrahimi back to Germany if it refused him entry to Turkey.
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