Turkish campaign stops deportation of Iranian pair

Two Iranian asylum seekers who illegally crossed into Turkey have been spared deportation after a campaign to save them from punishment back home, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

The pair, a young man and woman became a social media cause célèbre after breaking down into tears on hearing that they were to be deported. A petition gained nearly 9,000 signatures in 16 hours against their deportation.

The woman said that as her hair was uncovered and dyed, she would have her arm cut off and as her boyfriend had tattoos, he would be executed if the couple were returned to their home country.

They were among 51 illegal migrants, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who had paid between $1,000 and $5,000 to be shipped across the border by people-smugglers before being caught in Adana.

Turkey has now agreed to allow the pair to stay until they can be sent to a safe third country.

While Turkey hosts some 3.5 million refugees from the war in Syria, it only grants formal asylum to refugees from Europe.