Israel frees Turkish detainee at Trump's request

Ebru Ozkan (left) arriving at Istanbul Ataturk Airport on July 16, 2018, after she was released by the Israeli court.
Ebru Ozkan (left) arriving at Istanbul Ataturk Airport on July 16, 2018, after she was released by the Israeli court.PHOTO: AFP

JERUSALEM (REUTERS) - Israel freed an alleged Turkish militant following a request from US President Donald Trump, an Israeli official said on Friday (July 27) after the Washington Post reported that the deal was part of a failed White House bid to get Ankara to release an American detainee.

Israel deported Ebru Ozkan on July 15, a week after indicting her for ties to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas - charges her lawyer denied.

She had been arrested by Israel while on a tourist visa in June. Her case angered Turkey.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Mr Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a July 14 phone call to let Ozkan go in a "trade" for Andrew Brunson, a US pastor who has spent 21 months in Turkish detention.

"I can confirm that there was such a request by President Trump," an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity.

Brunson, who denies charges of links to a group Ankara says was behind a failed 2016 coup, was moved to house arrest on Wednesday - prompting the Trump administration to threaten sanctions against Nato power Turkey.