Family of Palestinian ‘UAE spy’ disputes Turkish suicide claims

The family of a Palestinian found dead in a Turkish prison after being accused of spying for the United Arab Emirates demanded an investigation Tuesday.

Members of Zaki Mubarak’s family said they had been officially informed of the 55-year-old’s death in a Turkish prison, with authorities saying he had committed suicide.

“We want an international investigation and an autopsy to reveal the facts, but the Turkish authorities want to hide the truth,” his brother Zain al-Dain said. Relatives would not begin the mourning period until they knew, he said.

“I spoke to him a week ago and he was in high spirits insisting he would be released because he didn’t accept any of the false charges against him,” his sister Sanaa Mubarak abu Sbitan said.

“I know my brother Zaki and he would never commit suicide. This is a plot created by Turkey to cover up the assassination.”

Zaki, a former member of the Palestinian intelligence services, left the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Islamists Hamas seized control of the enclave, Zain al-Dain said.

He had since been based in Bulgaria and Turkey.

Turkish state news agency Anadolu said the man, who it did not name, was found dead in Silivri prison, on the outskirts of Istanbul, with prosecutors later saying he was found hanged.

He had been taken into custody with another alleged spy and later formally charged with “military and political” and “international espionage,” according to Anadolu.

The circumstances of the incident were unclear but media had speculated he was allied to Mohammed Dahlan, a former ally and now rival to Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas based in the UAE.

“Zaki has no relationship with the Dahlan movement,” Zain al-Dain said. “He is with Fatah under the leadership of president Abu Mazen [Abbas].”

Turkey has been investigating claims the two men were linked to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist killed in the country’s embassy in Istanbul last year.