An Israeli correspondent was briefly detained by Turkish authorities on Sunday while reporting from Istanbul about the case of a detained couple accused of espionage, the Times of Israel reported.
On Sunday, Channel 13 reporter Ali Mograbi was broadcasting from Istanbul when he was stopped by Turkish police. Mograbi was asked to produce a certificate verifying him as a journalist before being asked to stop filming and to delete the footage his team had recorded.
“They are not giving me more than two minutes, they are standing behind the camera,” Mograbi said during his broadcast.
The correspondent was temporarily detained before being released to his hotel and asked not to leave. Channel 13 says that Mograbi felt that police officers were still surveilling him after leaving custody and that he suspected they felt he would return to filming from Turkey’s largest city.
Mograbi was in Istanbul for a story about the arrest of Israeli tourist couple Natalie and Mordy Oaknin. The couple was on vacation in Turkey when they were arrested and charged with spying this week after they photographed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential palace in Istanbul and sent it to their family back in Israel.
There was initial speculation that Turkey, which has grown remarkably harsher towards Israel under Erdoğan’s rule, but a Jerusalem Post source said that the case has so far moved through normal legal procedures. Initially, Turkish police wanted to deport the Oaknins, but the Istanbul prosecutor’s office instead wanted to indict them on charges of military and political espionage.
Bennett was made aware of the arrests over the weekend, but has chosen to maintain a low profile to avoid escalating the situation, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Turkey and Israel were once strong allies, but relations deteriorated after the 2010 Mavi Mamara incident when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish citizens trying to enter Gaza by sea.
The two were initially thought to be moving towards reconciling their relationship, but this was disrupted by Erdoğan’s criticisms of Israel for its May military campaign in Gaza.
The Oaknins’ detention follows an earlier bust of what Turkish authorities said was a spy ring operated by Israeli intelligence in the country last month.
Former and current Mossad officials however have dismissed the claim, saying that Israel did not consider Turkey an intelligence priority and that Ankara was making the case into something “overblown.”