Turkish woman suspected of Hamas ties to be charged by Israeli court

A Turkish woman who came to Israel as a tourist will be charged by an Israeli court with aiding Hamas.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A 27-year-old Turkish national who was arrested almost a month ago at Ben Gurion airport after visiting Israel will be tried for security offenses in two days, the Daily Sabah, a Turkish pro-government paper, reported Sunday.

The charges against Ebru Özkan include “posing a threat to national security and having ties to terror organizations,” the daily said.

Other reports referred to an indictment being filed Sunday, specifically charging the tourist with aiding the Hamas terrorist organization by transferring money to one of its members.

Özkan’s lawyer, Omar Khamaysa, who was permitted to see his client for the first time after she spent two weeks in detention, told Ha’aretz that Özkan had been asked by a friend in Istanbul to wire $500 to a relative of his in the Palestinian Authority, whom she had no way of knowing was a Hamas operative. On a previous visit, she brought a cellphone charger for another person she didn’t personally know, the lawyer said, although the man did not come for it at the end.

“She says she had no idea they were Hamas activists,” Khamaysa stated. “And really, how is she supposed to know whether or not they’re Hamas activists? If your good friend asked you to bring money to a relative, would you ask if the money was going to terror activists?”

He also charged that the interrogations were not carried out in Turkish, but in Arabic, which his client doesn’t know well, and that she was pressured to sign a Hebrew-language transcript without it being translated first. When she did hear part of what it contained in court, she said it was not a true representation of what she had told the security authorities. Khamaysa said.

He added that he has not yet seen the text of the indictment yet but gleaned some information from what has been said in court.

“The prosecution claimed that the Shin Bet has had intelligence on her for a year, and that it was a mistake she entered [Israel] – she wasn’t supposed to get a visa in the first place,” he stated.

“It’s inconceivable that they let someone into the country and then remember upon her exit that they’re supposed to question and arrest them. Israel can’t carry out legally sanctioned abductions; you don’t give people a visa in order to arrest them later.”

Speaking to the Turkish Anadolu Agency, Ozkan’s sister denied the Israeli allegations completely, calling the arrest “arbitrary,” and the charges “groundless.” She claimed that her sister had simply gone to Jerusalem to spend part of Ramadan in the holy city and while there gave out “souvenirs such as candies, balloons and coloring books for children.”

There have been some protests in Turkey demanding Ozkan’s freedom, and the story has received wide coverage in the media there.