Judge Orders Release of Three Turkish Nationals Arrested Amid Jerusalem Protests

The men were detained Friday when they tried to enter the Temple Mount together with a group of Turks protesting Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

FILE PHOTO: A protester draped in a Turkish flag stands before flaming tires as clashes intensified following Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Ramallah, December 16, 2017.
ABBAS MOMANI/Bloomberg

A Jerusalem court ordered the release of three Turkish nationals Saturday who were arrested at the entrance to the Temple Mount Friday evening on suspicion of assaulting police officers.

The men, all of them in their 20s, were detained when they tried to enter the Temple Mount together with a group of young Turkish citizens who took part in a demonstration to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The judge criticized the police and rejected their request to keep the suspects in custody for an additional four days. The men's lawyers said their clients were arrested in connection to the political tension between Israel and Turkey. Turkish diplomatic representatives attended the detention hearing.

The men said Israeli police officers barred them from entering because they were Turks, leading to an argument and shoving and ending in the arrest of the three. The public defenders of the three argued that the arrests were political in nature.

Judge David Shaul Gabai Richter of the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court wrote in his decision that despite there being a reasonable suspicion that one of the suspects had assaulted a police officer, he did not judge that the circumstances warranted detention. He ordered the men released, stipulating that they not enter the Old City of Jerusalem. In addition to rejecting the police request to extend their detention by four days, Gabai Richter also denied a police request to keep the three in custody to allow for an appeal of their release in the district court.