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Family of Turkish tourist held in Israel on terrorism charges says arrest 'arbitrary'

Ebru Ozkan was attempting to board her flight back to Istanbul when she was arrested and has been held in a military prison ever since
The 27-year-old works at a company in Istanbul and studies foreign trade (Twitter)

The family of a Turkish woman held for almost three weeks in Israeli custody on terrorism charges after she was arrested on holiday says the accusations against her are baseless.

Ebru Ozkan, 27, a secretary with a private company in Istanbul who is studying foreign trade through an online university, travelled in early June for a four-day visit to Jerusalem with a tour group of more than 30 others.

'My sister has no connection to any terror organisations. She devoted her life to kindness . . . She is not even political'

- Elif Ozkan, sister of Ebru Ozkan

On 11 June, as she attempted to board her flight home at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Ozkan was arrested and referred to a military court on charges of threatening Israeli security and suspected affiliation with Hamas which Israel designates as a terrorist group.

Ozkan is being held in a military prison in Petah Tikva, a city about 10km from Tel Aviv.

Her sister, Elif Ozkan, told Middle East Eye on Thursday that her sister's detention is "totally arbitrary".

“My sister has no connection to any terror organisations. She devoted her life to kindness. The only thing she took there was balloons, chocolates and candies. She is not even political,” Elif said. “They have no evidence.

“It’s been 18 days that we haven’t heard her voice. My father has heart problems, my mother is anxious. We’re worried," she said.

Elif said her sister first appeared in the military court on 13 June and has had her detention extended twice.

“They didn’t even allow her to see her lawyer until Monday,” her sister told MEE.“They have no evidence. The detention is totally arbitrary.” 

Omar Khamaisi, her lawyer, told MEE that when he saw Ozkan on Monday, he was only given access during a court hearing for an hour. “She looked healthy,” he said.

Khamaisi said he made an objection during the hearing over trying a Turkish citizen in a military court.

She will remain in custody until her next court appearance, scheduled for Sunday, he said.

The Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv said it was closely monitoring the case, the Anadolu Agency reported.

Ebru Ozkan’s friend Muhammed Unalmis told MEE that she contacted him just before she left Turkey for her trip.

"She was planning to stay for three days and come back," he said. "Instead, she was detained."

MEE contacted the Israeli justice and public security ministries for comment, but did not have a response by publication.