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Israeli couple accused of ‘espionage’ in Turkey released: Israel

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An Israeli couple held in Turkey for a week on suspicion of espionage was released Thursday, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the Israeli government.

Mordi and Natali Oknin were detained last week after visiting the newly opened Çamlıca Tower — İstanbul’s tallest building.

A court in the city charged them with “political and military espionage” for allegedly taking a photograph of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s home, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported.

The Oknins denied the charges, while Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid insisted the couple were not employees of any spying agency.

“After joint efforts with Turkey, Mordi and Natali Oknin were released from prison and are on their way home to Israel,” the office of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

A crowd of relatives and supporters greeted the couple as they arrived back in the central Israeli city of Modiin, footage aired by public television showed.

Bennett said he and Lapid “thanked the president of Turkey and his government for their cooperation and look forward to welcoming the couple back home.”

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been strained, especially since ambassadors were withdrawn in 2018 after the deaths of Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

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