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Israel couple detained in Turkey released, return home

Israeli couple Mordi and Natalie Oknin, who were held in Turkey for a week on suspicion of espionage, are greeted upon their arrival home in the Israeli city of Modiin on 18 November 2021 following their release. [GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli couple Mordi and Natalie Oknin, who were held in Turkey for a week on suspicion of espionage, are greeted upon their arrival home in the Israeli city of Modiin on 18 November 2021 following their release. [GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

Two Israelis detained last week in Turkey after they were reported for taking photos of the presidential palace in Istanbul were released and arrived in Israel on board a private jet sent by the Israeli government, local media reported this morning.

Husband and wife, Mordy and Natali Oknin, were detained last week after taking photographs for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's palace.

"The couple photographed Erdogan's home; they focused on the house and marked it," Turkish Interior Minister S├╝leyman Soylu said.

He added: "The prosecutor's office believes that they committed a crime of military and political espionage, but the court will make the decision in the future."

In a press release, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said: "After joint efforts with Turkey, Mordy and Natali Oknin were released from prison and are on their way home to Israel."

After their arrival to Israel, the couple thanked officials.

"We thank the President of Turkey and his government for their cooperation and look forward to welcoming the couple back home," Bennet and Lapid's statement said.

The two Israelis were arrested in Istanbul last week after they photographed Erdogan's palace in Istanbul and sent the pictures to a WhatsApp group in Israel called "family". The couple's daughter, however, said that she had not received the picture from her parents.

READ: Turkish-Israeli relations face a new crisis

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