Israel questions Iranian blogger after giving her asylum

Neda Amin. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 16 December 2017
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Israel questions Iranian blogger after giving her asylum

JERUSALEM: An Iranian blogger granted asylum in Israel has been questioned by its Shin Bet internal security service on suspicion of illegal communication with Iran, an Israeli official said on Friday.
Israel admitted Neda Amin, who was previously based in Turkey, on humanitarian grounds in August, saying that she faced forced repatriation to Iran and would be at risk given her writings for an Israeli news site. Amin is of part-Jewish origin.
Israel and Iran are enemies. As home to thousands of Iranian Jewish immigrants, Israel has in the past allowed such citizens to visit or correspond with relatives in Iran. But Israeli law bars contact with Tehran’s military or similar state agencies.
A Shin Bet statement said that, after moving to Israel, Amin communicated with “Iranian representatives” and was questioned about this by the security service, whose responsibilities include counter-espionage.
The statement used a Hebrew term for Amin’s alleged Iranian contacts that can also translate as “agents” or “officials.”
Asked by Reuters for clarification, an Israeli security official said only that the people with whom Amin was accused of communicating were not her relatives, and were inside Iran.
Amin was not under arrest, said the Israeli official, who requested anonymity, adding: “Whether there is a (criminal) case here is still being investigated.”
Reached by telephone, Amin declined to discuss the matter.
“I’m okay. I’m free, and I’m at the home of a friend,” she said. “I don’t want to speak about this topic now.”
Amin, originally from Tehran, added that her father was Jewish and mother Muslim. “My idea and my belief is that I am Jewish,” she said.


500,000 children face ‘immediate danger’ in Libya capital: UN

Updated 3 min 44 sec ago
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500,000 children face ‘immediate danger’ in Libya capital: UN

TRIPOLI: Half a million children are in “immediate danger” in Libya’s capital Tripoli due to fighting, the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF said on Monday.
Clashes that broke out between rival militias in late August had killed at least 115 people and wounded nearly 400 by Saturday night, according to Libya’s health ministry.
UNICEF said more than 1,200 families were displaced in the past 48 hours as the clashes intensified in southern Tripoli before pausing on Monday.
That put the total number of people displaced by the recent fighting at over 25,000, half of whom were children, it said.
The UN agency’s Middle East and North Africa director, Geert Cappelaere, said children were paying a “heavy toll” and were increasingly being recruited by armed groups.
“We see children being prevented from going to school, we see children not having the vaccination that they urgently need,” he said.
Those whose parents came to Libya with the hope of migrating to Europe by sea suffered doubly, said Cappelaere.
“They are already facing dire living conditions, many of them are held in detention,” a situation made worse by “the violence that is happening today,” he said.
UNICEF also said schools are increasingly being used to shelter displaced families, which is likely to delay the start of the academic year beyond October 3.
It said residents are facing food, power and water shortages, adding that the clashes had exacerbated the plight of migrants.
“Hundreds of detained refugees and migrants, including children, were forced to move because of violence. Others are stranded in centers in dire conditions,” Cappelaere said.
Despite a UN-brokered cease-fire on September 4, fighting broke out again last week in southern districts of the capital.
The clashes have pitted armed groups from Tarhuna and Misrata against Tripoli militias nominally controlled by Libya’s UN-backed unity government.
The Libyan capital has been at the center of a battle for influence between armed groups since dictator Muammar Qaddafi was ousted in a NATO-backed 2011 uprising.
The country’s unity government has struggled to exert its control in the face of a multitude of militias and a rival administration based in eastern Libya.