Writer who fled Turkish jail fights deportation from Greece

Sevan Nisanyan was detained on island of Samos after his residency permit ran out

SAMOS, Greece.  November 28 2019.

A half-sunken inflatable boat lies abandoned in the port of Pythagorio in Samos, Greece.  In the distance, the outline of Turkey just a few miles away. Boats such as these are used by smugglers to transport refugees from Turkey to Greece.  (Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images)
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A Turkish-Armenian writer is facing deportation from Greece, where he has been living after fleeing a Turkish prison.

Sevan Nisanyan, a 66-year-old linguist and blogger, was detained on the island of Samos on Thursday after Greek authorities refused to renew his residency permit, his wife, Ira Tzourou, posted on social media.

She said a court on the island was to decide if he should be deported and whether he would be sent to Turkey or Armenia. She blamed “xenophobia and racism” on the island for his plight.

Mr Nisanyan had been jailed in Turkey in 2014 on charges of illegal construction, a case he claims was punishment for his outspoken views about restrictions on freedom of expression in the country.

He escaped from a low-security prison in 2017 and sought asylum in Greece.

The writer had previously been convicted of blasphemy over a 2012 blog post in which he defended an anti-Islam film that ridiculed the Prophet Mohammed and sparked angry protests across the world.

“We have no doubt that we will somehow get through these difficult days,” said Ms Tzourou on Twitter. “Sevan is strong and is not a person to be afraid of such things.

“He is counting down the days under miserable conditions at the central police station in Samos.”

Greek courts usually refuse to extradite people to Turkey who say they would face persecution.

Officials from the Armenian embassy in Athens have visited Samos to assess the conditions in which Mr Nisanyan is being held, it said on its Facebook page.

The Armenian embassy said it was “taking all possible measures to resolve the case” and has called for Mr Nisanyan's release from custody.

Updated: January 03, 2022, 5:22 PM