ATHENS, Greece—On July 27, the government of Greece granted a six-month temporary residency permit to Turkish-Armenian fugitive Sevan Nişanyan, who escaped from a Turkish prison on July 14, after serving over three years of a 17-year sentence in Turkey.
In an interview with Armenpress on July 25, Nişanyan indicated that he had sought asylum from Greece saying, “I have always thought of Greece as my second or third homeland. It is a very beautiful and civilized country. I’ll be very happy to spend the new phase of my life there.”
“I got a lot of support and love from my friends in Armenia when I was in prison. There are many people whom I’d like to thank,” Nişanyan told Armenpress.
The Turkish authorities have issued a warrant for Nişanyan’s arrest and have listed him as a fugitive from the law.
In a recent interview with Armenian Weekly correspondent Gulisor Akkum, Nişanyan, said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime’s days are numbered and that he will eventually return to his home country.
“I am sad that I will be away from my village and my home for a period of time. But I do not believe this political insanity in Turkey will continue for too long. This regime is going to go, and we will return!” the Turkish-Armenian intellectual, travel writer, entrepreneur, and researcher told Akkum.
Nişanyan was jailed on Dec. 2, 2014, for “construction infractions.” The charges that had him locked up stemmed from the renovations and additions to his hotels in Sirince, an old Greek village in Izmir that has become a tourist destination thanks to Nişanyan and his rustic hotel business.
“The bird has flown. Wish the same for 80 million left behind,” Nişanyan said in a Tweet on July 14 upon fleeing the country. He also changed his profile photo on Twitter in the evening hours of July 14 and replaced it with a photo of a flying bird.
Nişanyan has since posted three new photos on his Facebook page, without specifying his location. The caption of one of the photos, which has since been removed but continues to be shared among several media outlets, simply reads “fugitive” in Turkish.
Nişanyan confirmed the reports of his escape to Turkish Habertürk daily newspaper by phone, but declined to give details of when and how he managed to flee.
“I do not want to comment on that topic. It is a bit too early to talk about methods and procedures. I will tell all the details when the time comes, let no one have a doubt. But, it is not yet the time,” Nişanyan told the Turkish daily. “I thought the 3.5 years [I served in prison] was enough. Therefore, I thought it was now time to take a bit of a breath. This is what happened. Utilizing some unique circumstances or deficiencies of Turkey, in this situation, I have decided to go out of our state’s control,” he added.
According to some reports, Nişanyan was allowed to leave prison for one day every three months and simply did not return after his latest sanctioned leave. Nişanyan was sentenced to a total of 17 years in a number of cases.
Nişanyan came to public attention in Turkey in January, when he announced that Turkey’s Justice Ministry had banned all newspapers and books from prisons except for the Quran as of Jan. 9.