Israeli couple released from detention in Turkey

Israeli couple released from detention in Turkey

Israeli couple released from detention in Turkey

An Israeli couple held by Turkey on suspicion of espionage returned home on Thursday after they were released from a weeklong detention.

Mordi and Natalie Oknin arrived to their home in central Israel where they were greeted by family and a crowd of reporters. From the family’s balcony, Natalie thanked all those involved in securing their release.

A statement by Israel’s prime minister and foreign minister earlier announced the release and also expressed gratitude to the president and government of Turkey.

The couple was arrested for espionage last week after taking photographs of the Turkish president’s residence in Istanbul, Turkey’s official news agency reported at the time.

Anadolu Agency said a Turkish national was also arrested. Police detained the three individuals after a tip-off from an employee working in a radio and television tower on the Asian side of Istanbul.

The employee claimed the couple had been taking photographs of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s nearby home from the tower’s restaurant.

They were formally arrested and awaiting trial for “political and military espionage” by an Istanbul court.

Turkish-Israeli ties important for Middle East’s stability: Erdoğan

Ties between Turkey and Israel are important for the security and stability of the Middle East, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said in a phone conversation with Israeli President Isaac Herzog amid mutual efforts to normalize damaged relations.

A written statement from the Turkish Presidency informed that the two presidents discussed bilateral relations and regional developments.

Ties between the two nations are important for the stability and security of the entire Middle East, Erdoğan said, suggesting that differences over bilateral and regional issues can be minimized in case Turkey and Israel act with the same understanding.

Peace, tolerance and the culture of co-existence should prevail in the region, Erdoğan underlined, highlighting the need for the resumption of the peace process between Palestine and Israel accompanied with good ties between the two states.

He also stressed that the continuation of dialogue and contacts between Turkey and Israel are to the benefit of both sides.

The phone conversation came after Turkey released two Israelis who were briefly detained over suspicion of espionage. Turkey and Israel had lowered the level of diplomatic ties after the latter’s killing of scores of Palestinians who protested the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. There are ongoing efforts for the reconciliation of ties between the two countries.