Turkey detains 7 suspected of spying for Israel

Suspects allegedly collected data on individuals and companies in Turkey and sold it to Mossad.

An aerial view of the city and Suleymaniye Mosque during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Istanbul, Turkey, March 30, 2020. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
The suspects were taken into custody during simultaneous raids in Istanbul, the interior minister said [File: Umit Bektas/Reuters]

Turkish police have detained seven people suspected of selling information to the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

The suspects were taken into custody on Tuesday during simultaneous raids in Istanbul, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on X. The detentions are the latest in a wave of such arrests in Turkey.

The detainees are suspected of collecting data on individuals and companies in Turkey and selling it to the Israeli intelligence agency, Yerlikaya said. The raids were a joint operation with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT).

“We will never allow espionage activities to be carried out within the borders of our country. We will catch them one by one and bring them to justice,” Yerlikaya insisted.

A video released by the Minister of the Interior showed police raiding homes in Istanbul and apparently seizing guns, drugs and electronic devices.

It was not immediately known if any charges had been issued and the authorities provided no additional information.

Israel did not immediately comment on the operation.

Wave of arrests

Last month, seven other people were arrested on similar grounds, while in early January, 34 people were detained by Turkish police on suspicion of spying for Israel.

The suspects arrested in January have been accused of planning to carry out activities including reconnaissance and “pursuing, assaulting and kidnapping” foreign nationals living in Turkey.

At the time, Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said most of the suspects were charged with committing “political or military espionage” on behalf of Israeli intelligence.

The state-run Anadolu Agency, citing unnamed security officials, said those detained on Tuesday included a former civil servant currently working as a private detective, who was allegedly trained by Mossad in Belgrade, Serbia.

He reportedly collected information on Middle Eastern companies and individuals, and placed tracking devices in vehicles of people targeted by Israeli intelligence.

He received payments in cryptocurrency that did not appear in official records, MIT said.

Following years of tension, Turkey and Israel normalised ties in 2022 and reappointed ambassadors. However, the resumed quickly deteriorated with the start of the Israel-Hamas war, with Ankara one of the strongest critics of Tel Aviv’s military campaign in Gaza.

In December, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said that his organisation was prepared to target the Hamas group anywhere, including in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly warned of “serious consequences” should Israel target anyone on Turkish soil.

Source: News Agencies