Israeli Shabi Shabtai was released Thursday from a Turkish prison after spending a week there for using counterfeit money at a duty-free store at Ben-Gurion Airport.
When Israeli police learned that Shabtai had purchased a television set using fake dollars shortly before departing for Turkey, they called their Turkish counterparts and requested that the traveler be detained upon his arrival. The Turkish police found an additional $400 in counterfeit bills in his possession when they arrested him.
Later, the Israeli police became convinced that Shabtai had no knowledge that his money was fake and sought to have him released. On Thursday a Turkish judge agreed to the request.
Shabtai is due to return to Israel over the weekend, according to the Foreign Ministry. "He has no criminal record. He was just an ordinary guy," said spokesman Yariv Ovadia.
In an interview with Channel 2, Shabtai described himself as "emotional" following his release. During his time in jail, he said, "there were many prayers - it wasn't easy."
According to one of the lawyers involved in the case, it had been difficult to convince the judge that a mistake had been made, but in the end, the appeals were successful.
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