An Israeli couple at home after a week-long detention in Turkey

An Israeli couple at home after a week-long detention in Turkey

Jerusalem — An Israeli couple detained by Turkey on suspicion of espionage returned home Thursday after being released from a week-long detention.

Mordi and Natalie Oknin arrived at their home in central Israel, where they were greeted by the family and a crowd of reporters. From the family balcony, Natalie thanked everyone involved in securing their release.

A statement by the Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Minister earlier announced the release and expressed gratitude to the President and Government of Turkey.

No official statement was issued by Turkish officials. Turkish private news agency DHA reported that a Turkish citizen who had been arrested with the couple has been released.

Turkey’s official news agency reported at the time that the couple had been arrested on espionage charges last week after taking pictures of the Turkish president’s home in Istanbul.

Anadolu Agency said a Turkish citizen was also arrested. The three police were detained after a tip-off from an employee working at a radio and television tower on the Asian side of Istanbul.

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The employee claimed that the couple were taking pictures of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s home near the Burj restaurant.

They have been officially arrested and are awaiting trial on charges of “political and military espionage” by a court in Istanbul.

After the arrest, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid denied that the couple worked for an Israeli agency.

Relations between Israel and Turkey were once two powerful regional allies at rock bottom during Erdogan’s rule, with the Turkish leader being an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. The couple’s arrest threatened to further weaken the relationship, but Israeli officials said the incident showed that the two countries’ diplomatic channels remained the same.

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Associated Press contributing writer Susan Fraser in Ankara.

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