Turkey accuses Israeli couple of espionage after taking photo
November 14, 2021 12:25 AM
An Istanbul court on Friday charged an Israeli couple with "espionage" after they allegedly took a photo of the Turkish president's home in the city, Turkish state media reported.
The couple were detained on Thursday after visiting Camlica tower which opened last year in the district of Uskudar on the Asian side of Istanbul.
It has restaurants and observation decks while the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a home in the district.
The couple, named by Israeli media as Mordy and Natali Oknin, were taken to the Istanbul court earlier on Friday where a judge charged them with "political and military espionage", Turkish state news agency Anadolu said.
An employee at the tower claimed the Israeli couple and a Turkish citizen "entered the restaurant in the tower and took photos of Erdogan's home and showed it to each other", the agency reported.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid's office issued a statement on Friday insisting the couple "do not work for any Israeli agency".
Lapid spoke with the couple's family and reassured them the Israeli foreign ministry had sought an urgent consular visit and was "acting on all levels to ensure their release," the office added.
Relations are strained between Turkey and Israel, especially since ambassadors were withdrawn in 2018 after the deaths of Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.