There’s nothing like a blessed routine, Natalie Oknin tells Ynet after being incarcerated in Turkey

Natalie Oknin said there was nothing like a blessed routine, in an interview with Ynet on Thursday, after more than a week in a Turkish jail cell.

She and her husband Mordi were arrested last Wednesday after photographing the Istanbul home of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the city’s communication tower.

The couple, residents of Modi’in, were on vacation in Turkey to celebrate Natalie’s birthday. After they were arrested, a judge took them into custody for an additional 20 days on suspicion that they were spies.

“I was scared to be there for months,” Natalie said. “I was afraid of losing touch with reality and wondered if I would ever see my children again.”

The couple were held in separate prisons on both sides of the city. Natalie said that at first she didn’t have even the most basic things.

“I didn’t have a toothbrush. I thought what would happen to my teeth if I couldn’t brush them for months.”

His cell was empty. He had no contact with the outside world except for a small window through which he could see planes passing.

“I wanted to project myself out there and grab onto planes,” he said.

Natalie knew that efforts were being made to free her and Mordi. He heard it in a brief message from his sister during the couple’s court appearance.

“I had faith that we would be free,” he said. “That’s what kept me going.

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Israeli rebels Natalie and Oknin who photographed Erdogan's palace leave the court in Istanbul, Turkey

Natalie and Mordi Oknin were released from court after being in custody for 20 days last Friday.

(Photo: Calendar)

Two things that were not lacking during her incarceration were pens and paper, and Natalie kept a journal in which she wrote her thoughts and emotions, as well as the chronology of her ordeal.

“I needed to keep track of the time,” he said.

Then finally the door of his cell was opened, and the guard said “home”, and indicated with his hands, a plane taking off.

The couple were taken to the airport. Mordi briefly met with the Israeli ambassador, who told her they were both headed home.

But the journey was long, and Natalie feared they would be taken to another prison. The same fears returned when at the airport, police officers struggled with paperwork and said final approval had not yet been received to let them go.

When they finally saw the private jet chartered to take them to Israel, and two members of the Foreign Ministry staff waiting on the stairs to greet them, Natalie finally relaxed.

“When the door closed, I knew we were fine,” he said. The couple was then handed the phone and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was heard telling them that they were on their way home. ”

“He asked how we were,” Mordi said, and told us that everything was over and that everything was going to be fine. “

The couple had no idea that their misfortune had made headlines in Israel. “I was in shock,” Natalie said when she learned of the efforts made to secure her release.

Previously, the couple received a call from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who had been in constant contact with the Oknin family throughout the couple’s time in jail.

“I am proud that this is my government,” Natalie told Bennett and Lapid. “You have restored my faith in the government.”

The couple work as bus drivers and are eager to resume their jobs and meet their regular passengers. They said they hope to return to their blessed routine and anonymity.

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