Jerusalem, 18 November, 2021 (TPS) — Mordy and Natali Oknin, Israeli tourists who were arrested by Turkish authorities and were facing espionage charges, were released from prison Wednesday night and returned home to Israel.
The Oknin couple was arrested by Turkish authorities a week and a half ago after taking a picture of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s residence. After “joint efforts with Turkey” they were released.
They were released at midnight, under a shroud of secrecy, and were returned to Israel on a private jet owned by the Foreign Ministry. The Mossad was involved in the process to have the couple released.
Upon landing, the couple thanked “the President, the Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, all members of the Foreign Ministry and all the people of Israel.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Erdogan and his government “for their cooperation.”
They also expressed their respect to the Oknin family for “their strength during this complicated time and for their cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” Additionally, they conveyed special thanks to President Isaac Herzog for his efforts to help bring them home.
Bennett and Lapid spoke Thursday morning with Shiraz, Natali’s daughter, and with Eran, Natali’s brother, who were waiting for Mordy and Natali Oknin at the airport.
Bennett lauded the family’s “restraint” which was “very critical in these days” and wished them “calmer days.”
Herzog congratulated Bennett, Lapid, and “all those involved in the work of redemption to return the Oknin couple home.”
Foreign Ministry officials stated that the couple was not released as part of any deal and nothing was provided to Turkey in return for their release.