Javied Aslam Arain, a leading figure in the Pakistani community in Greece, did not run in the general election, contrary to false claims circulating on social media. Aslam and the centre-left party PASOK-KINAL told AFP that he was not standing for election for the party in Athens, as claimed in some online posts. Both Aslam and PASOK-KINAL pointed out that he is not even eligible because he does not have Greek citizenship. Aslam has been living in Greece since 1996 and was given asylum in 2021 as a political refugee.
Hundreds of social media users shared a picture of Aslam, who is the leader of Pakistani community organisation “The Unity” in Greece, with the claim that he is running as a candidate for PASOK-KINAL in the western section of Athens. “This will be the next Parliament, full of foreigners who have nothing to do with the interests of Greece and the Greek people” reads the description of a Facebook post published on May 7.
The false posts show a graphic featuring a photo of Aslam on a green background with his name at the top and the subtitle “humanity, consistency, dedication”. The graphic presents him as “Candidate Member of Parliament for the Western Sector of Athens” and contains a PASOK-KINAL logo, along with a list of the neighbourhoods in that electoral district.
The false claim regarding his supposed candidacy has been shared more than 200 times in total.
Javied Aslam is not eligible to run in Greek elections
In a phone conversation with AFP on 9 May, Javied Aslam said that he is not running for election. “I do not have citizenship, so I cannot run for election. Someone who wanted to say this, did so. Even the police asked me if I am running as a candidate,” he said.
The claim was also refuted by PASOK-KINAL. Responding to AFP on the matter via text message, spokesman Dimitris Mantzos said: “I confirm that this is a blatant lie. This person does not even have Greek citizenship, how could he be a candidate?”
In article 55 of the Greek Constitution, the right to be elected to Parliament is reserved for Greek citizens who have turned 25 and are eligible to vote in elections.
Aslam does not officially belong to any political party, but he recently appeared at an event hosted by the anti-capitalist left-wing ANTARSYA party ahead of the election.
He has also participated in several political protests in Athens and appeared as a witness in 2017 at the much-publicised trial of politicians from the neo-Nazi organisation Golden Dawn.
Aslam’s legal position
Various social media posts also claimed that Javied Aslam is wanted by Pakistani, Indian, European and international authorities.
The website of the Pakistan embassy in Greece shows what appears to be a red notice from Interpol for Aslam dated 18 December 2015 — the document is posted on a page on the embassy website entitled “Most Wanted Criminals”.
However, AFP searched the Interpol database for his name (including a possible alternative spelling) and could not find him listed under current public red notices.
AFP contacted FIA to ascertain whether Aslam was still wanted by Pakistan, but did not receive a response.
Pakistan and Interpol have previously issued arrest warrants for Aslam but Greece refused to deport him and eventually granted him asylum based on the fact that he was likely to face political persecution in Pakistan. Pakistan’s charges against him have also been questioned by rights groups.
Aslam was arrested in central Athens in November 2006, following the activation of an Interpol red alert requested by Pakistan, reportedly on charges of illegal immigration and people smuggling.
Amnesty International sent a formal letter (archived here) to the Ministry of Public Order (now the Ministry of Civil Protection) in December 2006, arguing that the warrant was likely politically motivated and that a possible deportation of Aslam to Pakistan would be against international law. Aslam was ultimately not deported following a Supreme Court ruling in May 2007.
The General Secretariat for Migration Policy, Reception and Asylum stated in its decision to grant Aslam asylum in Greece that “there is a risk of persecution against him on political grounds” in Pakistan. The rationale for the decision was based on the Protocol of the Geneva Conventions of January 31, 1967 , the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Directive 95/2011/EU of the European Parliament.
In a phone conversation with AFP on May 9, Aslam claimed that Pakistan’s government was targeting him for organising protests against corruption outside the country’s embassy in Athens. Aslam’s dispute with the embassy has also been reported in the media, for example here.
Contrary to what is mentioned in some of the misleading claims, Aslam does not appear either on the most wanted list of the National Investigation Agency of India, or on the most wanted list from Europol.
Aslam told AFP that he has been living in Greece since July 1996. He applied for asylum twenty years later, in July 2016, according to his file.
Greek Minister of Migration Notis Mitarakis has appealed against the decision to grant asylum to Aslam. The court has not yet issued a decision on the case, Aslam confirmed to AFP.