ISTANBUL Turkish authorities detained a bird on suspicion it was spying for Israel, but freed it after X-rays showed it was not embedded with surveillance equipment, newspapers said on Friday.
The kestrel aroused suspicion because of a metal ring on its foot carrying the words "24311 Tel Avivunia Israel", prompting residents in the village of Altinayva to hand it over to the local governor.
The bird was put in an X-ray machine at a university hospital to check for microchips or bugging devices, according to the Milliyet newspaper, which carried a front-page image of the radiogram with the title "Israeli agent".
Ties between Turkey and Israel, long military allies, have been tense since May 2010 when Israeli commandoes killed nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, a ship in a Turkish-led convoy seeking to break a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
(Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Angus MacSwan)