Israel court charges Turkish woman accused of aiding ’terror’ group

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An Israeli military court on July 8 charged a Turkish woman accused of passing on hundreds of dollars to a “terrorist” organisation, security sources said.

Ebru Özkan, 27, was detained at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on June 11 as she was leaving the country to return to her homeland.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said Özkan 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 the Turkish woman was alleged to have links to was not given, but Israeli media reported the money was destined for the Islamist group Hamas.

The Israeli court is scheduled to hold a hearing in the case on July 10, according to Turkish media reports.

In response to the charge, Özkan’s lawyer Omara Khamaisi told Reuters outside the court: “Come on, really?”

“I think that in this the case the decision will ultimately be a brave one – to release her, I hope.”

Khamaisi said Özkan had been denied access to legal counsel for most of her detention and had not been interrogated in Turkish, leading to distortions in the way her answers to questions were recorded.

The indictment did not give specifics on where the alleged offences took place. Khamaisi said Özkan had spent three days in Jerusalem during her stay.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip under de facto Israeli blockade. Hamas is classified as a terrorist group by Israel and the West, but not by NATO-member Turkey.

Asked about Özkan’s case on July 6, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu referred to her as “our sister” and accused Israel of “taking deterrent measures against our citizens travelling to Jerusalem.”

“However, we will retaliate against this. Our relations will normalise when Israel stops its inhumane policies,” he said without elaborating.

The case against Özkan comes as tensions have spiked between Turkey and Israel after Ankara ordered out the Jewish state’s ambassador in May over the killing of protestors along the border with the Gaza Strip.

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