Israeli Couple Arrested for Suspected Espionage Over Photo of Erdogan's Palace Returns Home

© Photo : FacebookIsraeli couple Natali and Mordy Oknin face espionage charges in Turkey after allegedly taking photos of President Tayyip Erdogan’s residence in Istanbul
Israeli couple Natali and Mordy Oknin face espionage charges in Turkey after allegedly taking photos of President Tayyip Erdogan’s residence in Istanbul - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.11.2021
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Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "and his government for their cooperation" in the release of Natali and Mordy Oknin.
The Israeli couple, who was arrested for photographing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Istanbul palace last week, have returned to the Jewish state.

Speaking to reporters at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday, Natali and Mordy Oknin expressed gratitude to all those who had worked to bring them home, thanking "the entire nation of Israel" and saying that they "want to be with family".

This came after a statement by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced the couple's release, stating that "after joint efforts with Turkey", Mordy and Natali Oknin were freed and "are on their way home to Israel".

"We thank the President of Turkey [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] and his government for their cooperation and look forward to welcoming the couple back home", the statement said.

Bennett and Lapid also thanked the couple's family "for their strength during this complicated time and for their cooperation with the [Israeli] Ministry of Foreign Affairs".
Last week, the couple was detained in Istanbul after they photographed the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, parts of which are reportedly used as Erdogan's presidential residence.
Media reports at the time also claimed that thousands of tourists, among them Israelis, regularly take photos of the palace.
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The Turkish side, however, said that Mordy and Natali Oknin had been held for an additional 20 days on suspicion of espionage, allegations that were refuted by Israel.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, for his part, argued that the Oknins had "focused" on Erdogan's residence while photographing the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace and "marked it". He added that prosecutors believe the couple committed "what can be called diplomatic and military espionage", but that a "court will decide".

While the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a third country worked to press Turkish leaders to free the Oknins, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat told Radio 103FM that "no foreign countries were involved in this solution".
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