Erdogan claims arrest of purported ‘Israeli espionage network’ is just a ‘first step’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Budapest, Hungary, on December 18, 2023. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Budapest, Hungary, on December 18, 2023. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims that dozens of people detained on suspicion of spying for Israel last week was just a “first step” and a “clear response to those who threaten” Turkey.

Speaking at an event celebrating the 97th anniversary of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT), Erdogan says the detentions conducted by MIT and the Turkish police “seriously surprised Israel.”

“Our [intelligence] organization, which revealed Israel’s espionage network in our country, has given a very clear response to those who threaten us. Of course, this seriously surprised Israel,” he says.

A court in Istanbul has ordered 15 of 34 people detained on suspicion of spying for Israel’s intelligence agencies be held in prison awaiting trial, Turkey’s justice minister said last Friday.

The suspects were arrested last Tuesday for allegedly planning to carry out activities that included “reconnaissance” and “pursuing, assaulting and kidnapping” foreign nationals living in Turkey.

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