Turkish woman held by Israel on 'terrorist' charges returns home

#Diplomacy

Accused of passing hundreds of dollars to a 'terrorist' organisation, Ebru Ozkan was detained in Tel Aviv in June

Ebru Ozkan (L), arrives in Istanbul Ataturk Airport after being released by the Israeli court (AFP)
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Monday 16 July 2018 14:43 UTC
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A Turkish woman held for over a month by Israel on charges of passing hundreds of dollars to a "terrorist" organisation, returned home to Turkey on Monday after her release.

Ebru Ozkan, 27, arrived overnight on a scheduled flight from Tel Aviv, the state-run Anadolu Agency said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already called Ozkan to pass on his best wishes after her return, said his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, describing her incarceration as "unfounded".

Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, said "she was released under conditions and then it was decided to order her to immediately leave Israel." No further details on the release were added. 

Ozkan was detained at Israel's Ben Gurion airport on 11 June as she was leaving the country to return to Turkey.

Shin Bet said Ozkan was arrested "on suspicion of posing a threat to national security and for having links to a terrorist organisation", passing on hundreds of dollars and phone chargers. 

The name of the group Ozkan was alleged to have links to was not given, but Israeli media reported the money was destined for Hamas.

'Totally arbitrary'

In late June, Ebru's sister Elif Ozkan, told Middle East Eye that Ebru's detention was "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," she said.

“They have no evidence."

The case against Ozkan added to tensions that have spiked between Turkey and Israel in recent weeks.

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Last Friday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his officials were in contact with the Israelis over Ozkan's case, and called for an end to its "pitiless persecutions". 

In recent weeks, Israeli media outlets have reported that authorities are increasingly concerned Turkey is attempting to increase its influence in the holy city of Jerusalem through charitable organisations working there.