Thursday, 2 Dec 2021 - 28 of Kislev, 5782

Israeli couple jailed in Turkey for alleged spying release after nine days

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Turkish President Erdogan and his government for their cooperation in securing the release of the two Israelis.

An Israeli couple jailed nine days ago in Turkey for alleged spying after photographing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s residence in Istanbul, were released from prison and returned to Israel on Thursday morning.

In a joint statement, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Natalie and Mordy Oknin were on their way back to Israel. They thanked Turkish President Erdogan and his government for their cooperation in securing the release of the two Israelis.

The Oknins, in their 40s from the central Israeli city Modi’in, are both drivers for the Egged bus company. While on a trip to Turkey, authorities there arrested them for alleged espionage after they took a picture of Erdogan’s palace.

While Turkish authorities claimed they were spying, even “marking” Erdogan’s residence, he Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office emphasized that, contrary to the Turkish prosecution’s accusation, the Oaknins are not Israeli spies and have nothing to do with Israeli intelligence. In addition, Mossad chief David Barnea spoke to his counterpart and President Isaac Herzog called senior figures in Turkey.

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