Israeli couple arrested in Turkey on espionage charges

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An Israeli married couple were arrested for espionage late Friday after taking photographs of the Turkish president’s residence in Istanbul, Turkey’s official news agency said.

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

The employee claimed they were taking photographs of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s nearby home from the tower’s restaurant earlier this week.

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

In a statement issued late Friday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid denied the couple work for an “Israeli agency.” He said his department has been in regular contact with the pair and is trying to organize their release.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz identified the couple as Natalie and Mordi Oknin. Citing their lawyer, it said they were taking photographs of the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace while taking a ferry.

Parts of Dolmabahce, located on the city’s European side, are used as a presidential working office.

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