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Israeli Couple Arrested for Taking Photos of Erdogan’s Istanbul ‘Palace’: Report

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing the congress of the ruling Islamist AKP Party in March 2021. Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas

Two Israelis are said to have been arrested after taking photographs of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Istanbul residence from a ferry boat.

The couple, both in their forties from the city of Modiin, travelled to Istanbul for a birthday trip. According to initial reports, the woman is said to have taken pictures of Erdogan’s home without knowing that it was illegal and sent them to her family in a WhatsApp group. Since then, the couple’s family has been unable to contact them, Israel’s Channel 12 news reported on Thursday.

“We knew they were supposed to return on Tuesday and suddenly they disappeared. We are very concerned,” said the woman’s sister. “My sister is not affiliated with any intelligence organization. We very much hope that they will release her as soon as possible.”

The arrested woman’s sister added: “We have been asked to keep quiet and play down the incident. We were sure they would be released quickly, but now we can not be silent about this. We are worried about my sister and brother-in-law.”

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According to N12, Turkish authorities have not passed on any official information about the arrest. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that it is aware of the incident and is dealing with it.

A letter sent by Nir Jaslowitz, the lawyer representing the couple, to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid read: “The couple was on a tourist ferry, during which they photographed the palace as the ship passed near the palace — indicating an innocent act done in good faith, as a tourist act, and not a ‘criminal’ act that justifies such an abusive act in detention.”

The Israeli couple is expected to be brought before a judge in Turkey tomorrow, while the prosecutor has not yet provided an update on details of the indictment.

In October, a group of 15 people alleged to have spied for the Israeli Mossad were arrested in Turkey, according to a report in Turkish media. The supposed agents were said to have provided the Israeli intelligence agency with information about foreign students from universities in Turkey, with a focus on those who could work for the defense industry.

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