Turkey releases Israeli couple held over alleged espionage charge, Israel says

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Turkey has released an Israeli couple who it had detained over espionage charges for allegedly taking photographs of President Tayyip Erdogan’s residence during a trip to Istanbul, Israel’s prime minister and foreign minister said on Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has denied the spying charges against the couple, Mordi and Natali Oknin, saying they do not work for any Israeli agency. His government sent a senior emissary to Turkey to help work for their release.

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“After joint efforts with Turkey, Mordi and Natali Oknin were released from prison and are on their way home to Israel,” Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a joint statement.

“We thank the President of Turkey and his government for their cooperation and look forward to welcoming the couple back home,” they said.

A Turkish court arrested the Israeli couple on Nov. 12 on charges of espionage for taking photographs of 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 the 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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