Istanbul — According to the official Turkish news agency, the Israeli couple were arrested for spying late Friday after taking a picture of the Turkish president’s residence in Istanbul.
Anadolu Agency said the Turkish people were also arrested. Police detained them after being informed by employees working at Camlica Radio and Television Tower on the Asian side of Istanbul.
Employees claimed to be taking pictures of a house near Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from a restaurant in the tower earlier this week.
They were formally arrested awaiting a “political and military espionage” trial by a court in Istanbul.
In a statement released late Friday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid denied the couple working in an “Israeli agency.” He said his department was in regular contact with the pair and was trying to organize their release.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz identified the couple as Natalie and Mordi Oknin. Quoting their lawyer, they said they were taking pictures of the Ottoman Dolmabahce Palace while taking the ferry. Part of Dolmabahce, located on the European side of the city, is used as the president’s working office.