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Iranian intelligence agents infiltrating Turkey to track down dissidents


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3.aspGeoStrategy Direct:


Iran has sent agents into neighboring Turkey to intimidate dissidents, a report said.

OMID Advocates for Human Rights said Iranian intelligence officers have been moving through Turkey in an effort to identify and locate political opponents of the Teheran regime. The U.S. human rights group, which focuses on the Middle East, said the Iranian agents were threatening large numbers of emigrants who sought political asylum over the last year.


"Two refugees reported to the OMID's delegation that they had been assaulted by Farsi-speaking men," OMID said in a report. "Another refugee reported being questioned and threatened while in the hospital by representatives of the Iranian government stationed at a consulate in Turkey."


Titled "Report on the Situation of Iranian Refugees in Turkey," the report, based on interviews with Iranian refugees, said Turkey has become a leading destination for Iranian dissidents. The report said more than 4,300 Iranians were seeking asylum in Turkey, about half of them since the disputed presidential elections in Iran in June 2009. Most of the refugees were said to have entered Turkey as tourists.


"Many of the Iranians who have fled to Turkey are unregistered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, and the lengthy and difficult process keeps many refugees from applying to the UN's refugee agency," the report said. "Refugees know or soon realize that only 20 percent of all refugees in Turkey are ever resettled in third countries. This daunting figure would discourage anyone from attempting to enter the resettlement process with all of its aggravating complexities and no guarantee of ever being moved to a secure third country."


Over the last five years, Turkey has significantly enhanced diplomatic, energy and security cooperation with Iran. Ankara has been the only NATO member to oppose United Nations sanctions on Teheran.


"Unlike refugees from both Iraq and Afghanistan which also share a border with Turkey, Iranian refugees are particularly vulnerable because reliable evidence exists that Iranian security forces have entered Turkey to pursue and terrorize asylum-seekers," the report said. "Regardless of whether forced repatriation of asylum-seekers by Iranian security forces is occurring or is merely threat, the possibility creates fear, suspicion and anxiety within the refugee population."


Iranian refugees, many of whom are living in the eastern city of Agri, described what they termed harsh treatment by Turkish authorities. The refugees, who said they had survived torture in Iran, told of lack of support, jobs, and hostility by Turkish government bureaucrats and the United Nations.


"This is why no asylum seeker is legally authorized to work in Turkey, and it is also known that they are pushed into a system of labor exploitation," said the report.



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