A Turkish prosecutor is seeking up to 20 years in prison for 57 suspects each, who are charged with spying for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

A public prosecutor in an ongoing trial at the 28th Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul accuses the defendants of “obtaining confidential state information for political or military espionage.”

The prosecutor’s indictment said the Israeli intelligence created a remote, online operation team through mobile applications to provide remote sources, transfer money to these sources via live couriers and carry out tactical operations against its targets in the field.

Mossad aimed to use live couriers for certain tactical work against its targets in the field in Türkiye, the prosecutor said, adding that it was not proven the information the defendants gathered should remain secret for the security of the state or domestic or political benefits.

According to the indictment, the defendants were first contacted via Telegram and WhatsApp applications, but no video or voice calls were ever made and payments for their services were wired in through international money transfer companies, cryptocurrencies or live couriers.

Mossad used detectives for jobs that required professionalism and “regular” people who would not arouse suspicion for more tactical jobs who used nicknames like “Abdalla Qassem,” “Abu Halid Abdalla Qassem,” “Janet Foster,” “Ali Al Jafrı,” “Şhirin Alayan,” “Roman Romanov,” “Cemal,” “Igor” and “Ilya.”

The tactical jobs group was instructed to set up and manage a WhatsApp chat group and a news website, and conduct research, transfer money, document photographs and videos and surveil, assault, rob targets, sometimes in Syria and Lebanon.

Mossad ordered the detectives to gather intelligence, such as biographical information about its targets, do live surveillance, place tracking devices, find live couriers and perform other cyber-activity tasks.

The prosecution found that these suspects exploited gaps in the system and their acquaintances serving in critical state institutions to be able to obtain confidential state information.

“It’s the kind of information that should remain secret due to its nature,” the prosecution said and demanded 15 to 20 years in prison for all suspects.

Istanbul court ruled to release 18 defendants on probation, citing the time they served and the unlikelihood of them spoiling any evidence.

It also agreed to lift the international travel ban on 36 other defendants based on existing evidence before adjourning the hearing for the defense to counter the prosecution’s argument.

As the Palestinian-Israeli conflict rages on, Türkiye has uncovered several networks operated by Mossad in the country.

Since January, authorities have detained or arrested and charged dozens of people suspected of having ties to Israel’s Mossad. Six people were charged in March.

They are accused of recruiting Turkish nationals and people of other nationalities living in the country to spy on Palestinians, particularly people associated with the resistance group Hamas.

Mossad is said to have also recruited Palestinians and Syrian nationals in Türkiye as part of an operation against foreigners living in Türkiye.

Türkiye and Israel resumed frozen relations last year after years of tensions due to Israel’s acts of aggression targeting Palestinians. Yet, ties deteriorated again after Oct. 7, the start of the new round of the Palestine-Israel conflict. Ankara is one of the strongest critics of Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

The head of Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security agency said in December that his organization was prepared to target Hamas anywhere, including in Lebanon, Türkiye and Qatar.

Turkish and Israeli leaders have traded public barbs since Israel’s war on the Palestinian resistance group Hamas began in October.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Israel of “serious consequences” if Israel pressed ahead with its threat to attack Hamas officials on Turkish soil.

The Daily Sabah Newsletter

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