Turkey: 16 people indicted for espionage in favor of Israel

Turkish Prosecution have indicted 16 people suspected of spying for Israel, a Turkish daily newspaper reports.

Istanbul’s Public Prosecutor on Friday indicted 16 people suspected of spying for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, according to Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper.

The Turkish newspaper reported that 15 suspects are Palestinian, all in prison currently. The 16th. suspect is an Israeli Arab citizen, Ahmad Ziyad, who runs the network while living in Germany.

According to the indictment, the Mossad spying network consists of five lone cells. Each could receive a 20-year prison sentence should the court accept the Public Prosecutor’s claims.

According to the Turkish daily, the second important person in the network is Abdul Kader Barakat, accused of passing money from Ziyad to the other suspects.

Other suspects were named, including Abdul Rahman Nawa, who wore glasses fitted with a camera to take pictures of certain known people.

Mohammad Salhab is also part of the network and collected information on Turkish charities with connections to Palestinian NGOs.

Raed Ashour, according to the Public Prosecutor, has worked as a spy for Mossad between 1997 and the time he was detained.

In October, the newspaper reported that members of a spy network working with Mossad had been detained.

Israel and Turkey have not yet issued official statements on the issue.

When asked by Israeli Channel 12 whether Turkey had exaggerated the issue, former Deputy Head of Mossad and current MK Ram Ben-Barak replied, “Yes”.

He said that he would not explain how Mossad works, but urged: “The issue should be given importance proportional to its size.”

A couple released

Meanwhile, the Israeli couple that was arrested after taking pictures of President Erdogan’s residence atop Istanbul’s tallest building were later released.

Mordi and Natali Oknin were detained after visiting the newly opened Camlica Tower – Istanbul’s tallest building. However, they were freed last Thursday.

A court in the city charged them with “political and military espionage” for allegedly taking a photograph of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s home, Anadolu Agency reported.

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.

The Oknins denied the charges, while Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid insisted the couple was not employees of any spy agency.

“After joint efforts with Turkey, Mordi and Natali Oknin were released from prison and are on their way home to Israel,” the office of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

Bennett said he and Lapid “thanked the president of Turkey and his government for their cooperation and look forward to welcoming the couple back home”.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been strained, especially since ambassadors were withdrawn in 2018 after the deaths of Palestinian protesters in Gaza.