Detained Israelis could spend years in Turkish prison – report

Israeli officials say that if the couple is not released within 48 hours, they will likely be sentenced to years in Turkish prison.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

If a diplomatic solution to release an Israeli couple detained in Turkey is not found within the next 48 hours, they will likely languish in Turkish prison for years, Hebrew language media reported.

Natalie and Mordy Oaknin, a married couple from the central Israel city of Modi’in, were arrested last week for photographing Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s private residence while on a tour of Istanbul.

In a surprise move last Friday, a local judge ordered that the pair be held in custody for an additional 20 days while prosecutors decide whether they will charge the Oaknins with espionage.

The Jewish State has repeatedly said that the Oaknins, both public bus drivers for the Egged transportation company, Bennett: Israeli couple arrested in Turkey ‘not working on behalf of any Israeli agency’

Channel 12 and Channel 13 News quoted unnamed security officials as saying that negotiations to return the Oaknins to Israel had reached a critical point.

If the matter is not resolved within the next two days, the source said, the couple will likely be charged and found guilty of serious security offenses which would see them sentenced to years in Turkish prison.

The Oaknin’s family in Israel has been outspoken about what they say is a lack of effort on the part of the Israeli government, despite assurances from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and President Isaac Herzog, to rescue the couple.

“They are two innocent citizens who accidentally got into a complicated situation,” Bennett said during his opening remarks at a cabinet meeting on Sunday morning.

“I spoke with the family yesterday and we are doing everything we can to resolve the issue. I ask the family, despite the great difficulty, to be strong. We are with you. Beyond that, it wouldn’t be right to expand [on the issue] at the moment.”

Ali Mograbi, an Israeli journalist for Channel 13 News, was detained by police in Istanbul while reporting on the Oaknins.

He told Channel 13 that he felt he was tailed by Turkish security forces for hours on Sunday, before being detained, interrogated, and forced to delete photographs and materials pertaining to the case.

Turkish-born Israeli journalist Rafael Sadi told Radio103FM that the ongoing detainment of the Oaknins is politically-motivated.

“They have fallen victim to the hatred of Israel produced by the state and by the government,” Sadi said.

“The only law that exists regarding photography says that a person can not photograph a person’s residence without his permission,” he explained.

“Under this law people can be detained and imprisoned for a period of up to five years. But [in this case] they are accused of spying. The punishment for this is life imprisonment. ”

The couple share a 5-year-old son with special needs, who did not accompany them on the trip.

Mrs. Oaknin’s adult daughter from a previous relationship is currently caring for the boy.