Turkey will not deport journalist wanted for Iran corruption reports - sources

Turkey will not deport a journalist wanted by Iran for his reporting on corruption inside the country following a complaint from a press freedom watchdog.

Mohammad Mosaed, an Iranian freelance journalist covering corruption and protests against the Iranian government, was detained by Turkish police on Sunday after crossing the border into the eastern city of Van. 

The journalist had called for help because he believed he was going to freeze to death in the winter if he did not seek emergency assistance. 

On Monday, the Washington D.C-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom nonprofit, called on Turkey not to deport Mosaed to his home country. 

"We urge Turkish authorities to respect their obligations under international law; to refrain from deporting Mosaed; to consider any request for political asylum that Mosaed may make; and to assure Mosaed’s rights are protected through due process of law," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement.

Mosaed received the CPJ's International Press Freedom award last year for his work inside Iran. He has been arrested multiple times in Iran for his reporting on anti-government protests and corruption in the economy. The most recent sentence came in August when he was charged and sentenced to four years and nine months for “colluding against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system.”  Included with the sentence was a two-year ban on journalism activities, and a two-year ban on using all communications devices.

The CPJ warned in their statement to Turkey that Mosaed was at risk of persecution if he was returned to Iran. Turkish authorities have yet to comment on his case, but anonymous sources speaking to the pro-AKP Middle East Eye insist they will not deport Mosaed. 

Mosaed's case is the latest one involving Iranian dissidents fleeing to Turkey to escape harm or imprisonment. 

In 2019, a former employee of the Iranian Ministry of Defence named Masoud Molavi Vardanjani fled to Turkey after he spoke out against Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps before Iranian agents operating out of the consulate in Istanbul gunned him down. Saeed Karimian, an Iranan TV executive reviled by the regime, was murdered in a gangland-style killing in 2017, with Iran being the prime suspect. 

Last September, Turkey declined to deport Mayram Shariatmadari, an anti-hijab activist, wanted in Iran for protesting against the laws forcing women to don the Islamic covering, known as hijab, and for attending a tribute to the former Shah Reza Pahlavi. She was initially detained by Turkish police on an expired residency permit, but was released and allowed to file for either an extension to her permit or international protection.