Israel denies espionage charge against couple arrested in Turkey

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Israel is working for the release of an Israeli couple being held in Turkey, denying allegations carried by Turkish state media that the two were spies, the Israeli prime minister said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that he had spoken the family of the two Israelis, Natali and Mody Oknin, and updated them on the efforts being made to bring them back to Israel.

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The couple, Bennett said, “as has already been emphasized by officials, do not work for any Israeli agency.”

“The most senior echelons in Israel dealt with this issue throughout the weekend, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and will continue to work tirelessly with the aim of finding a solution as soon as possible,” he said.

A Turkish court arrested the Israeli couple on Friday on charges of espionage for taking photographs of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s residence from the Camlica Tower, a telecommunications tower in Istanbul with observation decks, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency reported.

Anadolu said an employee tipped off the police after seeing the couple take pictures of Erdogan’s residence from the tower’s restaurant.

It said a Turkish national, who was with the couple, was also arrested on charges of political and military espionage.

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