Turkey’s prosecutor’s office says Zaki Hasan, a Palestinian agent allegedly working for the Emiratis, apparently committed suicide
A Turkish soldier stands guard at the Silivri prison courthouse, in Istanbul (AFP)
One of two alleged UAE agents who were arrested in Istanbul 10 days ago has been found dead in his prison cell, Istanbul prosecutor’s office said in a written statement on Monday.
Zaki Hasan, a Palestinian citizen, was kept in the cell alone. He was found dead there on Sunday morning, the statement said.
“During the distribution of food, a guard found his body hanging on the bathroom door. An autopsy on the body has been conducted. The investigation on the matter continues,” the statement added. Both alleged Emirati agents had been held in Istanbul’s Silivri prison.
‘A guard found his body hanging on the bathroom door. An autopsy on the body has been conducted. The investigation on the matter continues’
– Prosecutor’s office
Turkish police, in close coordination with national intelligence agency MIT, earlier this month detained Palestinian citizens Hasan and Samer Shaban on charges of espionage and spying on Arab citizens in Turkey.
Turkish officials said both individuals, on behalf of the United Arab Emirates’ intelligence services, were compiling information on the location of members, companies and groups connected to the Palestinians Liberation Organisation (PLO). The pair are alleged to have also been collecting intelligence on senior officials from Fatah, the party leading the PLO.
They were also accused of trying to obtain information on possible Hamas members, and learn the details of Muslim Brotherhood organisation in the country. A source told Middle East Eye that both of them also have UAE citizenship.
A police report obtained by MEE claims that Hasan, 56, is a retired major-general from the Palestinian intelligence services and Shaban is an explosives specialist who worked with him in the same division between 2002-2004.
“Two suspects were in touch with a suspected UAE intelligence officer, Abu Sayf. Several text messages and bank transactions suggest they were part of the same intelligence organisation over the last six years,” the report says.
According to the report, Hasan and Shaban are believed to be connected to Palestinian politician Mohammed Dahlan, the former leader of Fatah in Gaza, who lives in exile in UAE and known to be close to ruling family there.
A Turkish official told MEE earlier this month that both alleged spies confessed that they were spying on Arab citizens residing in Turkey.
The official said Shaban had arrived in the country last October, a couple of days after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by a team of Saudi agents in his country’s consulate in Istanbul.
The investigators said Hasan came to Turkey from Bulgaria in March to help his alleged associate.
“We are investigating whether the primary individual’s arrival in Turkey was related to the Jamal Khashoggi murder,” a Turkish official told the Reuters news agency earlier this month.
“It is possible that there was an attempt to collect information about Arabs, including political dissidents, living in Turkey.”
The Turkish official told MEE that Samer Shaban was under surveillance for the past 6 months. Turkish media published several imagery belonging to both individuals. Turkish officials also seized an encrypted computer located in a hidden compartment in the operatives’ base of operations.