Report: Israel freed Turkish detainee at Trump's request

Israel deported Ebru Ozkan on July 15, a week after indicting her for ties to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

By REUTERS
July 27, 2018 11:22
1 minute read.
Report: Israel freed Turkish detainee at Trump's request

Turkish citizen, Ebru Ozkan, who was arrested at an Israeli airport last month, is being brought to an Israeli military court, near Migdal, Israel July 8, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)

 
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JERUSALEM - Israel freed a Turkish woman accused of ties to Hamas following a request by US President Donald Trump, an Israeli official said on Friday, after the Washington Post reported the deal as part of a failed White House bid to get Ankara to release an American detainee.

Israel arrested Ebru Ozkan while she was visiting as a tourist last month. On July 8, it indicted her in a security court for ties to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, charges her lawyer denied and which angered Turkey. She was deported a week later.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a July 14 phone call to let Ozkan go in a "trade" for Turkey releasing Andrew Brunson, a US pastor who has spent 21 months in Turkish detention.

"I can confirm that there was such a request by President Trump," an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity, without elaborating.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem had no immediate comment.


Brunson, who denies charges of links to a group Ankara says was behind a failed 2016 coup, was moved to house arrest on Wednesday - prompting the Trump administration to threaten sanctions against fellow NATO-power Turkey.

At the time of Ozkan's release, another Israeli official told Reuters that among the reasons for hear release was that, upon review, prosecutors deemed her case too weak to warrant pursuing.

However, her Israeli lawyer, Omar Khamaisi, said on Friday that the indictment against his client had yet to be withdrawn.

Arriving in Istanbul on July 16, Ozkan said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and been "kind enough to be very interested in my case." Khamaisi said he was unaware of the reported diplomatic deal around her release.

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