A bird captured in Turkey is being allowed to fly away home after thorough examinations revealed it was not working for the Mossad.
Turkish news outlet Hurryiet reported Thursday that residents of a village called Altinavya in the Ağın district of the eastern province of Elazığ reported the kestrel suspicious for having for having a tag reading, “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel.”
Initially registered by medical personnel at the local Firat University as “Israeli spy,” the feathered creature was exonerated by x-rays and other tests showing it was not carrying any microchips and other surveillance equipment.
This flighty behavior on the part of the Turks is not altogether surprising. The Telegraph noted, “the incident shows the degree of paranoia and xenophobia regarding Israel that exists among large segments of Turkish society…[as] talks between Turkey and Israel over compensation for families of those killed in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident have stalled.”
The kestrel joins the ranks of other non-humans accused of spying by Israel’s neighbors. In May 2012, Turkish authorities thought a European bee-eater was spooky before determining that it was not hiding an Israeli listening device. Last December, a bird with an Israeli tag was detained in Sudan, and in 2010, an Egyptian official suggested that Israel was controlling sharks in the Red Sea.
Back in 2007, Iran’s state-sponsored IRNA news agency reported that 14 squirrels, believed to be Western agents, had been arrested with spy gear. In 2008, Iran said it caught two pigeons with “invisible strings” staking out a nuclear site in Natanz.
As paranoia about the Mossad seems to be soaring to new heights, some simply see it as an insult to Israel’s intelligence gathering. Ohad Hatzofe, an avian ecologist for Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, commented.