7 detained in Turkey for allegedly selling intel to Mossad via private detectives

Turkish security official says arrests made in connection with tracking and monitoring local targets, after Erdogan warned Israel against hunting down Hamas members abroad

Turkey’s national intelligence organization MIT releases footage of its arrest of alleged Mossad spies on January 2, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
Turkey’s national intelligence organization MIT releases footage of its arrest of alleged Mossad spies on January 2, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

Turkish police arrested seven people on Friday on suspicion of selling information to the Mossad spy agency through private detectives, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The arrests were made in connection with tracking and monitoring local targets, a Turkish security official quoted by Reuters said on Friday.

The suspects were detained in a joint operation with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, or MIT.

Turkey has previously warned Israel of “serious consequences” if it tries to hunt down members of the Hamas terror group living outside Palestinian territories, including in Turkey. Turkish and Israeli leaders have traded public barbs since the start of Israel’s war against Hamas following the Gaza-ruling terror group’s slaughter of 1,200 people in southern Israel on October 7.

Acting on warrants issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, police anti-terror and intelligence branch officers carried out raids in Istanbul and the west coast city of Izmir, Anadolu reported.

Two other suspects in the investigation were thought to have been detained earlier.

State broadcaster TRT, citing unnamed security sources, reported on Friday that the suspects were believed to have sought to monitor and photograph the targets, place tracking devices on them and gain other information for the Mossad.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart jn Ankara, on January 24, 2024. (Adem Altan/AFP)

Ankara has made no formal statement regarding arrests. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

Last month, 34 people were detained by Turkish police on suspicion of spying for Israel. They were accused of planning to carry out activities that included reconnaissance and “pursuing, assaulting and kidnapping” foreign nationals living in Turkey.

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

The Mossad is said to have recruited Palestinians and Syrian nationals in Turkey as part of an operation against foreigners living in Turkey.

Following the January 2 arrests, Anadolu cited a prosecution document as saying the operation targeted “Palestinian nationals and their families … within the scope of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The head of the Shin Bet security agency said in December that his organization was prepared to target Hamas anywhere, including in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar.

Unlike most of its Western allies and some Arab nations, Turkey does not classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The war began on October 7 when Hamas terrorists rampaged across the border, killing more than 1,200 people in Israel — most of them civilians slaughtered amid brutal atrocities including executions, burning of bodies and rapes —  and seizing over 250 hostages, of whom more than 130 are still held in Gaza.

Vowing to destroy the terror group, Israel launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza which Hamas authorities say has killed more than 27,000 people. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 10,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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