Israeli couple detained in Turkey for photographing Erdoğan’s house

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An Israeli couple was detained by the police after taking a picture of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s home from Çamlıca Tower in İstanbul, the Kronos news website reported on Thursday.

The Israelis, N.O. and M.O., reportedly visited a restaurant atop Çamlıca Tower and took photographs of the surrounding buildings, including the Turkish president’s residence, from the tower’s windows.

A staff member at the tower informed the police, claiming he heard the couple talk about photographing Erdoğan’s house.

The couple was taken into custody by the counterterrorism branch of the İstanbul Police Department.

The pair apparently didn’t know it was illegal to photograph Erdoğan’s house since the woman sent the picture to a family WhatsApp group with the caption, “Such a nice house,” according to the T24 news website.

“It was an innocent act done in good faith, as a tourist act, and not as a ‘criminal’ act that justifies such an abusive act of detention,” the couple’s lawyer Nir Yaslovitzh said in a letter to Yair Lapid, alternate prime minister of Israel and minister of foreign affairs, according to the Times of Israel.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said they were aware of the issue and that they were taking care of it, Kan news reported.

The woman’s family filed an inquiry about her absence after the couple failed to return to Israel last night as planned, and the couple is considered officially missing as Turkish authorities have not provided any official information about the detention, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“My sister isn’t connected to any spy agency,” the woman’s sister told Channel 12, referring to 15 Mossad agents who were apprehended in Turkey last month.

A Turkish court last month ruled for the arrest of 15 suspects who allegedly worked for Israeli spy agency Mossad in Turkey after they were detained on Oct. 7 by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) following a year-long counterintelligence operation.

Ties between Israel and Turkey have been tense since a Turkish NGO oversaw a flotilla of ships that tried to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010.

There has been no ambassador in either country since May 2018, when the two had a bitter falling out, despite strong commercial ties, over Turkey’s reaction to Israeli attacks on Gaza and Washington’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The bilateral ties came under further strain when President Erdoğan denounced Israel’s West Bank annexation plan, vowing to prevent its implementation.

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