Germany to review asylum case of pro-Assad Syrian working for far-right anti-immigration party

Germany to review asylum case of pro-Assad Syrian working for far-right anti-immigration party
Germany has said it will review the asylum case of Kevork Almassian, a pro-Assad Syrian who traveled to Germany in 2015. Almassian works under a far-right politician for the AfD.
4 min read
08 March, 2019
Almassian works for a far-right politician whose party wants Syrians to leave Germany [Facebook]

Germany has said it will review the asylum case of a pro-Assad Syrian man who works for the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AFD), after Kevork Almassian's refugee status was called into question by media.

Kevork Almassian, an Armenian-Syrian from Aleppo, has been accused of being a "propagandist" for Bashar al-Assad's regime and working for a party that advocates for the return of all Syrians to their country.

"Someone has to do counter-propaganda, too," he told the alt-right magazine Sezession. "You serve Syria by not leaving public opinion abroad to the enemies of the country."

Almassian, who has fashioned himself as a political analyst for Syrian and Russian media since the beginning of the country's devastating eight-year war, traveled to Germany to seek asylum in 2015.

While thousands of Syrians have been granted asylum in Germany for fleeing the regime's daily bombing and shelling of opposition areas, Almassian has openly admitted that he traveled to Europe for economic reasons.

"It was safe in Switzerland. But I had to choose between Germany, Sweden, Netherlands," he told

"I believe the system that exists in Germany and the pattern of life, it suits me."

He flew to Switzerland to attend a conference, after which he traveled onwards to Germany. Unable to convert a business visa into a residence permit, he instead applied for asylum.

Within days of his arrival he was pictured drinking beer with Markus Frohnmaier, an AfD activist. Almassian now works under Frohnamaier who has since become an AfD MP.

Syrians in Germany - many of whom have fled the regime's assaults on opposition and crackdown on activists - have petitioned the Federal Office for Migration (BAMF) to revoke Almassian's refugee status in light of these revelations. The campaigners also oppose his strongly pro-Assad stance and work for the AfD.

BAMF announced that, while they could not discuss Almassian's case specifically due to privacy conditions, but all asylum cases that have been approved since 2015 will be reviewed.

The migration office noted that it regularly examines Twitter when reviewing asylum cases, and that any individuals proven to have lied in their asylum applications would have their refugee status revoked. Almost 800 people were deprived of asylum, refugee or protection status in 2018, according to BAMF.

"BAMF can initiate a revocation procedure if there are indications that maintaining the protection status is no longer justified," Nahla Osman, a Syrian lawyer now resident in Germany told

"[Many Syrians are] incensed that an Assad fan can receive refugee status, work and travels and speak of naturalisation, while some of the Assad regime's torture victims are not recognised in court."

Osman was at the head of the campaign to revoke Almassian's asylum status, having drafted a letter for others to send to BAMF.

Almassian has said he plans to apply for a German passport in the future.

His relationship with the AfD seems to pre-date his journey to Germany.

Articles referencing Almassian appeared in a right-wing military magazine run by Manuel Ochsenreiter, a far-right journalist who has since been implicated in planning a firebomb attack on a Hungarian cultural centre in Ukraine in an alleged-false flag attack designed to incriminate Ukrainian nationalists.

Ochsenreiter also visited Almassian in Syria in 2014.

Following the accusations against Oshsenreiter, the extreme right-winger was fired from his job as an adviser to Frohnamaier.

While Almassian devotes the majority of his time to disseminating what he calls "counter-propaganda" for the Syrian regime, he has also appeared at AfD rallies, although he denies being a member of the party.

Among other pro-Assad comments, Almassian accused Hamza al-Khateeb, a 13 year old who was brutally tortured to death by regime forces in 2011, of "attacking a military post with his jihadi friends" in a 2018 tweet.

At one rally, he said that the majority of Syrian refugees in Germany were Islamists and warned that there could be a massacre at a German train station if the government failed to restrict immigration.

Such comments are typical of the AfD, which is virulently anti-Islam and anti-refugee.

AfD politicians have described Syria a "safe country" and called on Germany to return Syrian refugees, something widely disputed by human rights groups.