Finally, after some delays, the Israeli couple who was arrested in Turkey on suspicion of espionage after photographing Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan’s palace is finally released on Thursday with the help of the United Arab Emirates.
According to reports, Mordy and Natali Oknin, in their 40s were deported back to Israel in a private jet around 6:20 a.m.
The aircraft used was a U.S.-registered jet that had been used by Israel in the past for state matters.
Sources said UAE National Security Adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has close ties with his Turkish counterpart and other defense officials in the country, was asked by Israel to help mediate the couple’s release.
Israeli officials made it clear to bin Zayed that the couple had never worked or acted on behalf of any security intelligence agency.
The assurances were enough to convince the top UAE official that the Oknins were innocent tourists who were arrested for no wrongdoing, and he agreed to weigh in on the matter vis-à-vis Ankara.
With the successful release of the couple, the Israeli government thanks Turkey for the gesture.
The Turkish police arrested the couple earlier after a waiter sensed something suspicious when he saw them looking at the photographs of the palace of Erdogan while having lunch at a restaurant.
The couple took the photo while they were on a tour of the Istanbul Radio Tower – which overlooks the entire city.
Sources said the president’s residence is located just four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the site.
Nir Yaslovitzh, an Israeli attorney hired to deal with the matter said the couple was wrongfully arrested since they photograph Erdogan’s palace without malice while on a boat trip.
“Their only offense involves photographing Erdogan’s palace during an innocent boat trip. This is a rare instance in which the Foreign Ministry has to do everything that it can so that Israeli citizens don’t find themselves under arrest beyond Israel’s borders, at no fault of their own,” Yaslovitzh said.