Several Turkish media outlets and journalists on Wednesday slammed Turkish authorities for the arrest of an Israeli couple held on suspicion of espionage for photographing the Istanbul mansion of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Fatih Altaylı, who in the past was considered a strong supporter of the Turkish leader, wrote that the detention of Mordy and Natali Oknin was "wrong and a disgrace."
"It's not even a joke. It is a disgrace," he wrote. "To arrest tourists who visited the television tower in Istanbul and took photos as is done all over the world. For God's sake don't make people ridicule us."
Turkish Habertürk television reported on Tuesday evening that Israel was warning its citizens about travel to Turkey, a claim that was denied.
Local media interest in the fate of Mordy and Natali, who were arrested last week and remanded to custody for 20 days last Friday, is causing concern in Israel after officials said that as this is an election year in Turkey, the couple could become pawns in an internal political fight.
The couple was accompanied when arrested by a local guide, who according to local reports was once married to a Jewish woman and picked up some Hebrew from her.
His involvement in the arrest may have contributed to the serious suspicions leveled against the Israelis.
Former Israeli ambassador to Ankara Pinchas Avivi said in an interview on Ynet on Wednesday that the matter must be resolved through diplomatic channels – in order to bring about the quick release of the Modi'in couple.
"For the sake of the Oknins, professional diplomats should be the ones to solve the problem," he said. "I have no doubt that this must remain a consular matter and all attempts must be made to leave senior political levels out of it," he said adding that such an involvement would complicate matters further.
"I think the fact that the Mossad chief made a public statement that the couple is not affiliated with any intelligence organization, carries weight in Turkey but once politicians get involved the Turkish authorities might take a more combative stance," he said.
Avivi also noted that the fact that Erdogan has not made any public comment on the arrest is a source of optimism.
First published: 13:18, 11.17.21