Istanbul: An Israeli couple and a Turkish national were arrested Friday on espionage charges after being detained for taking pictures of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s residence from a tower in Istanbul.
The three face charges of political and military espionage, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. Israel’s foreign ministry refuted the claims and said the couple “do not work for any Israeli agency.”
Ties between Israel and Turkey, once close military allies, remain frayed. Ankara is critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, while Israel charges Turkey with supporting Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. Last month, Turkey reportedly detained 15 people for allegedly spying on behalf of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.
The latest arrests came after an employee in Istanbul’s Camlica tower claimed the Israeli couple and a Turkish citizen took pictures of Erdogan’s house and showed them to each other, Anadolu said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has spoken with the families of the arrested couple and a spokesperson said the ministry is working to secure their release.