Practical joke gone wrong: Israelis detained in Turkish jail threatend with death

Two Israeli soccer players, arrested in Turkey after practical joke gone wrong, say they were in fear for their lives during their time in a local jail.

By World Israel News Staff

Two Israeli soccer players who were detained for several days in a Turkish jail after playing a practical joke described their harrowing experience, saying that they were afraid to go to sleep at night due to their concerns that fellow prisoners would harm them.

Dudu Edri and Steven Shaulsky, who both play for the minor-league M.S. Tira, had traveled to Istanbul with the rest of their team for a pre-season training session.

Last Friday, the pair decided to prank the locals and purchased fake Turkish money. They then threw the currency on the floor of a restaurant in the tourist hotspot of Taksim Square, filming the reactions of passersby.

Because the bills bear the image of former Turkish leaders, intentionally throwing the currency on the ground is considered an act of disrespect towards the government and is technically against the law in Turkey, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

The owner of the restaurant and several patrons called the police, who arrested Edri and Shaulsky the next day at their hotel after the eatery provided security camera footage of the incident.

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“I warned [the players] not to make mischief,” the team’s manager, Abed Titi, told Mako. “It all started as a fun night out and ended in a nightmare.”

After intervention from Israel’s Foreign Ministry and cooperation between local and Israeli attorneys, Edri and Shaulsky were deported to Israel overnight Monday, after spending some four nights in custody.

“When the other detainees heard that we were Israelis, they harassed us. There were Iranians and Syrians there. Some poured water on us, insulted us. They threatened to hurt us. We couldn’t close our eyes at night because we were afraid they would harm us,” Edri said.

“There were those who threatened us that if we covered ourselves up with a blanket, they would suffocate us.”

Titi said he was grateful that the players had made it back to Israel safely. “I am happy that this incident is behind us,” he told Mako.

“We were very lucky that they did not arrest all 10 players who were present at the event and only [detained] the two who were caught on video [throwing the money.] Otherwise, we would be in a lot of trouble,” he said.