Natalie and Mordi Vardin in Istanbul

Turkey extends arrest of Israeli couple suspected of espionage in snap row

Court rules Natalie and Mordi Vardin will remain in custody until trial after they were detained in Istanbul for taking photo of Turkish president; Lapid says couple not affiliated with any organization

Itamar Eichner, Gilad Morag, Meir Turgeman |
Updated: 11.12.21, 22:59
A court in Turkey on Friday, ruled an Israeli couple detained on suspicion of espionage after photographing the palace of the Turkish president, will remain in custody for the next 20 days.
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  • Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the couple had no affiliation with any organization.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    הזוג שנעצר בטורקיה לאחר שצילם את ארמון ארדואן
    הזוג שנעצר בטורקיה לאחר שצילם את ארמון ארדואן
    Natalie and Mordi Vardin in Istanbul
    (Photo: Facebook)
    The Israeli Consulate in Istanbul relayed a request to Turkish authorities, to be allowed to meet with the couple immediately.
    Natalie and Mordi Vardin were arrested Thursday after they were spotted taking photos of Istanbul residence of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
    Natalie and Mordi Vardin taken out after court rules they will remain in custody
    (: Takvim)vim)
    According to the local attorney hired to represent them, the ruling is indication that they will remain in jail until their trial is to begin.
    According to Turkish officials, the couple were standing on the Istanbul communication tower's restaurant floor taking picture of the city below. A staff member heard them mention the presidential residence and reported the conversation to the police, prompting their arrest along with a Turkish friend who was accompanying them.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    נטלי ומורדי אוקנין הישראלים שצילמו את ארמונו של ארדואן יוצאים מבית המשפט באיסטנבול, טורקיה
    נטלי ומורדי אוקנין הישראלים שצילמו את ארמונו של ארדואן יוצאים מבית המשפט באיסטנבול, טורקיה
    Natalie and Mordi Vardin taken away from court after ruling they will remain in custody for 20 days
    (Photo: Takvim)
    It is against the law to photograph the residence; a fact the couple say they were not aware of.
    Earlier Turkish officials indicated to the Israeli Foreign Ministry that the couple would be released and deported back to Israel on Friday.
    The Turkish authorities did not notify Israel of the arrest and the news was delivered to the Vardin family in Modi'in by the wife of the Turkish friend.
    The arrest of the Israeli couple comes only three weeks after Turkey announced it had uncovered a Mossad spy ring operating in that country. At least 15 people were arrested by local police.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    מבצע המעצרים בטורקיה של אנשי מוסד
    מבצע המעצרים בטורקיה של אנשי מוסד
    Turkish police on raid to arrest alleged Mossad operatives last month
    Israeli officials said there were concerned that the couple would be tired for espionage.
    "This is a ridiculous accusation," the official said. "Google has better pictures than those taken from afar by the Israeli couple."
    Israel and Turkey have been under strained relations since 2003 over Erdogan's condemnation of Israel's policy towards Gaza and his support of the ruling Hamas terror group.
    In 2010, a Turkish boat, the MV Mavi Marmara took part in a flotilla of boats attempting to reach the besieged enclave and was overtaken by IDF troops suspecting weapons were on board. In the violence that broke out, 10 activists on board were killed and 10 IDF soldiers were wounded.
    Israel later agreed to financially compensate the families of the victims but the strained relations with Ankara continued.
    The Vardin's are parents to a child suffering from autism and their family is appealing for help in securing their immediate release.
    Mrs. Vardin was able to communicate a call for help through her Tukish attorney's phone after the ruling. "Please save me, do everything possible to get me out of here," she said.



    First published: 19:40, 11.12.21
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