An Iranian blogger who wrote for an Israeli news website and who left her country for exile after threats of imprisonment arrived in Israel on Thursday, saying she feels “safe now” after finally reaching Israel.
Neda Amin spoke shortly after arrival in Israel at a joint press conference with David Horovitz, the founding editor of The Times of Israel, where her work has appeared and who helped bring her to the country.
Amin, 32, had been living in Turkey since 2014. She says she left Iran after being threatened with prison for writing material critical of the government in Tehran.
Turkish authorities recently told her she would be deported back to Iran and that she was in “such danger,” Amin added.
Horovitz, after hearing of Amin’s plight about two weeks ago — and feeling that his news site had an obligation to her because her writing for his website was “a factor in her life being in danger”— spoke to the relevant Israeli authorities to help her.
“Neda speaks a little English. It was enough for her to say to me, on the phone, ‘Mr. Horovitz, please save me.’
“I thought that there was a choice, which is to do nothing or to see if we can save her,” he added.
On Thursday, she told reporters, “I’m very happy. Israel (is) like my country. … I think it’s my country, and I think in my mind that I am safe now,” she said. “I was under such danger, and such a difficult life and persecutions, so at the end, the state of Israel provided me with this” opportunity.
Horovitz was careful to share the credit for her release with others who helped. “I wasn’t the only one acting on her behalf: The NGO UN Watch started a petition for her, and the Jerusalem Journalists Association wrote directly to Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri,” he said in a first-person account published on Thursday.
“What I do know is that very soon after I shared the details of Neda’s case, the Israeli authorities wheeled into action. Whatever checks needed to be made were evidently made. Whatever decisions needed to be taken were evidently taken.
“At the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Consul-General Shai Cohen and Yaffa Olivitski — who handles consular affairs — established contact with Neda, and went far out of their way to help. Paperwork was organized. And I was told that Neda was going to be allowed to fly to Israel, with an appropriate visa.”
The visa was obtained, but other paperwork required from the Turkish police for her departure was missing when she arrived at the airport for the flight to Tel Aviv. At the time the delay cropped up, her mobile phone ran out of power and she couldn’t update her contacts in Israel. She had disappeared from view without explanation, and it was rumored she had been arrested.
That was not the case, but it took time to finalize the paperwork. Two days later, she arrived in Israel.
Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said Amin was currently in Israel on a tourist visa. Amin said at the press conference that she hopes she can stay in Israel.
Amin said most of her family in Iran has cut ties with her because her work appeared in Israeli media.