Türkiye detains eight in sting on alleged Israel spy network

Türkiye’s Minister for the Interior, Ali Yerlikaya, announced that security forces arrested two and detained six Friday in an operation to bust an alleged Israeli spy ring.

Yerlikaya said that the eight suspects compiled information about Turkish individuals and companies. The Turkish government alleged that the eight suspects then transferred the documents and information they collected to Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.

The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office put two of the suspects under formal arrest. The cases of the six others are still pending. In his announcement on X (formerly Twitter), Yerlikaya suggested that the espionage was an attempt to undermine Turkish unity, sovereignty and solidarity. This is not the first time that individuals have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of espionage for Israel. In January, Turkish authorities detained 33 suspects on similar charges.

Relations between Turkey and Israel, always tense, have seen a significant chill in the midst of the war in Gaza. The ongoing war in Gaza strained much of the diplomatic progress that had been made after years of efforts to rebuild ties. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israel’s conduct during the war in Gaza while speaking at a World’s Human Rights Day event in late 2023. Then, in December, a leaked recording published by Israeli media outlets indicated that Israel’s spy chief had approved the elimination of Hamas fighters “in every location” in the world, including Qatar, Turkey and Lebanon.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ deadly October 7 attack on Israel, Erdogan further strained relations with Israel by declaring that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.”

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