Sevan Nişanyan, an Armenian writer and linguist, and a citizen of Turkey who took refuge in Greece after he escaped from a Turkish prison in July 2017, spoke to Alin Ozinian from Artı TV after his release from Greek custody on 7 January on condition of leaving Greece within 14 days.
Nişanyan had been detained on 30 December 2021 on the grounds that his residence permit had expired although he was married to a Greek citizen in 2019, which provided him with legal residency according to his wife Ira Tzourou.
Nişanyan had been stopped previously at the border in October when he was returning from abroad, and was told by a Greek officer that there was a deportation order issued for him. He was prevented from entering Greece on that occasion.
“I was surprisingly told upon my return from abroad in October at a passport control point: ‘Hey, you cannot enter the country, there is a deportation order issued for you,'” he related the incident to Alin Ozinian.
“‘Concerning what?’ I asked. The reason, they said, was a secret. It was something involving a national security threat.”
After spending some time in other countries, he found a way to get back to Greece via a route that didn’t involve border checks.
“Especially after my recent arrest, it became clear that it wasn’t a big conspiracy thing, or some big state issue,” he further explained.
“It appears it was triggered only by local, pathetic, simple rumours. Nothing else. Samos and other Greek islands have recently been actually invaded by an incredible storm of xenophobia and racism. And among the provocateurs the police force, is foremost of all. It looks like at the end of a chain of ridiculous paranoia and gossip, they thought to themselves, ‘This man is Turkish, he came from Turkey, let’s send him back’.
Nişanyan was arrested in Turkey in 2014 over a dispute with the Turkish authorities about a permit for stone houses he had built in the village of Şirince, a former Greek settlement in Izmir province, that he had spent decades helping to revive.
A court case relating to this was initiated shortly after, followed by another case, for insulting the prophet Mohammad.