Mossad Chief Enters Case of Israelis Arrested in Turkey

YERUSHALAYIM -

The head of the Mossad has discussed the detention of an Israeli couple in Turkey with his counterpart, according to the Kan public broadcaster on Tuesday night.

Mossad chief David Barnea thus became the highest-ranking Israeli official so far to intervene personally with Turkish officials to obtain the release of the two Israelis, who may soon be charged with spying, after taking pictures of a presidential palace in Istanbul.

Israel officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, have said that the couple were just tourists taking pictures of the palace who did not know that Turkish law forbids it.

But in a worrying development earlier in the day, the Turkish interior minister alleged that they were engaged in espionage, but that the courts would decide. It was the first official statement from Istanbul since the arrest last week. Prosecutors are said to be preparing material for a trial.

According to the Kan report, Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz also spoke with a senior official in Turkey in an effort to clarify the situation.