Turkish security personnel have detained 44 people on suspicion of spying on Palestinian Arabs living in the country for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, according to the Arabic-language edition of the local Daily Sabah news outlet.
The alleged suspects were accused of leaking information about Palestinian Authority expatriates living in Turkey, and their NGOs, to the Mossad.
Investigators said the detainees, alleged members of a private investigators’ association and a university professor, were paid to monitor the Palestinian Authority expats and their NGOs in Turkey.
Istanbul Police and Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) arrested seven of the suspects and are searching for 13 others, according to investigators quoted by local media.
“Turkish authorities have been investigating Istanbul-based ‘consulting companies’ which offered private investigation services for their customers for a while via their contacts with the Israeli agency,” the local Daily Sabah reported.
“Mossad paid suspects to run surveillance on Palestinians and their nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Türkiye, according to investigators. An operation was launched earlier this week against the suspects.
“Interrogated suspects’ statements revealed that their work helped Mossad to launch smear campaigns and threats against Palestinians on the Internet,” according to the report.
This past June, Turkish authorities arrested Iranian terrorists who were planning attacks on Israelis in Istanbul. The operation was conducted in cooperation with the Mossad.
Three months earlier, Israel’s President Issac Herzog traveled to Ankara for a state visit to Turkey, the first such trip by an Israeli leader since 2008, at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Israel and Turkey announced in August the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the two countries, a move that followed Herzog’s diplomatic visit to Ankara and reciprocal visits of the foreign ministers to Jerusalem and Ankara.