Kidnapped Israeli Tsurkov ‘absolutely not a member of Mossad’ — Israeli official

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Elizabeth Tsurkov in an undated photo (social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Elizabeth Tsurkov in an undated photo (social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Israeli-Russian citizen kidnapped in mid-March by a radical Shiite militia in Iraq “is absolutely not a member of Mossad, period, exclamation point, underline,” a senior Israeli official says in a briefing with Israeli reporters, refuting rumors in Arab media.

“She is an innocent Israeli citizen doing doctoral work in Princeton,” he adds. “There is no connection between Israeli officials and Elizabeth.”

“It is not inconceivable that Iran is fully versed in the details,” says the official, in response to a question about Iranian involvement.

The official does not say what countries have been involved in trying to get her released, saying only “you can guess which actors are relevant.”

The government has been in touch with Elizabeth Tsurkov’s family, says the official. She is alive and in good health.

The official will not say why Israel decided to release information now, even though it knew within days of the kidnapping in Baghdad.

The official adds that it appears Tsurkov had made previous trips to Iraq.

Entrance into Iraq, defined as an enemy country, is illegal for Israeli citizens.

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