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‘I didn’t think I’d get home alive’: Israeli couple recalls time in Turkish custody

Natali and Mordy Oknin, who were held in Turkey for a week on suspicion of espionage, speak to journalists hours after they were released at their home in Modiin, on November 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Natali and Mordy Oknin, who were held in Turkey for a week on suspicion of espionage, speak to journalists hours after they were released at their home in Modiin, on November 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

In a series of television interviews after their return to Israel, Natali and Mordy Oknin describe their time in Turkish custody.

The two were arrested after photographing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s palace in Istanbul.

“I didn’t eat. I keep kosher,” Natali Oknin tells Channel 12 news, explaining that she asked for just bread and water instead of meals.

In a separate interview with Channel 13, she says Israel “saved” them.

“They got us home… we felt like we were captives,” she says.

Her husband says the two were held alone at different prisons.

“We didn’t know how it would end… but we always believed we would get home and that the State of Israel wouldn’t leave us there alone,” Mordy Oknin says.

Natali Oknin says she had panic attacks in prison.

“I didn’t have air to breathe… I felt that my world had fallen in me. I didn’t think I would get home alive,” she says.

She was also asked about her past social media posts, highly critical of the current government, and whether the affair changed her stance.

“Absolutely. Absolutely… I don’t have the words to thank them enough,” she says of PM Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid, adding that she told them this when they spoke earlier today.

Asked if she will again visit Turkey, she responds, “I don’t intend to leave Israel in the near future!”

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