Turkey

Turkey shows solidarity with TIKA worker held by Israel

A Palestinian employee of Turkish aid agency TIKA, Muhammad Murtaja was arrested by Israel last month

21.03.2017
Turkey shows solidarity with TIKA worker held by Israel File photo

By Ahmet Furkan Mercan

ANKARA

An employee of Turkish aid agency TIKA arrested last month by Israel and accused of aiding Hamas is “innocent until proven guilty”, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

“According to basic legal principles, until he [the defendant] has been subject to due process, he is assumed to be innocent,” ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said.

On Feb. 12, Muhammad Murtaja was arrested at the Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel while traveling to Turkey to receive vocational training from his employers, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).

Murtaja has since been accused by the Israeli authorities of "cooperating with Hamas; being a member of an enemy organization; having contact with enemy spies; and plotting against state security”.

“Murtaja’s situation and judicial process in Israel is being monitored closely,” Muftuoglu said Tuesday.

“It is well known by both the public and host communities that TIKA adheres to collaborative and transparent principles in line with international standards,” he added.

“It’s out of the question that we would tolerate any attempt on the safety of the concerned parties,” the spokesman continued.

“The matter must be investigated, whether or not the elements have a basis in the criminal charges released today,” Muftuoglu said.

“To adequately secure the rights of the person in question, all types of legal support will be procured,” he asserted.

The spokesman added: “On behalf of the Turkish nation, TIKA will continue to carry out projects [in Palestine] with care and devotion with a view to eliminating the hardships that the Palestinian people -- especially those in Gaza -- have endured over 50 years of occupation.”

Since Murtaja’s arrest last month, the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv have maintained diplomatic efforts to secure his release.

Married with four children, Murtaja has worked for TIKA in Gaza since 2012.

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