Turkish officials detained a bird after villagers accused it of spying for Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, but then freed the winged creature after X-rays cleared it of suspicion.

The Milliyet newspaper reported that the kestrel – a type of falcon – was X-rayed at a university hospital to search for any microchips or bugging devices. Only when the scans came up clear was the bird allowed to go free. The newspaper carried a front-page image of the X-ray on Friday which revealed that scientists had dubbed the creature “Israeli agent” on the X-ray, Reuters reported.

Turkey X Rays Israeli Bird Accused of Being in Service of Mossad

An image of the X-ray as seen in the Turkish press. On the upper left, the Turkish words for “Israeli agent” are visible (Photo: Time Turk)

This comes on heels of other conspiracy theories about the Mossad in the Muslim world, including Egyptian accusations that Israel was behind a surge in shark attacks in the Red Sea, and concerns in Turkey that Israeli genetically-modified tomato seeds can be programmed to harm consumers.

Residents of Altınavya, a Turkish village, became suspicious when they saw that the bird was wearing a metal ring on its foot showing the words “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel,” Hurriyet Daily News reported. The Times of Israel noted that the tag belonged to Tel Aviv University. After capturing the little bird, the villagers delivered it to the local governor’s office.

From there, the bird went for a medical examination to look for microchips or spying equipment. Fırat University technicians concluded that “the bird was just a simple specimen of Israeli wildlife,” reported Hurriyet.

Turkey X Rays Israeli Bird Accused of Being in Service of Mossad

The metal tag on the foot of the bird that raised suspicions. It was a Tel Aviv University tag (Photo: Time Turk)

Ornithologists often tag birds in order to track migration routes.

The Times of Israel reported on even more accusations of the Mossad: “In May of 2012, authorities in Ankara dissected a European bee-eater [a type of bird] after becoming concerned that it was carrying an Israeli listening device, and in December an eagle with an Israeli tag in Sudan was captured and touted as a Mossad spy,” the English-language Israeli site reported.

The Atlantic ran an article last year looking at some of the more “outlandish conspiracy theories” including:

  • Calling a heavy metal music festival in Istanbul a Mossad front.
  • A suggestion by the head of Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YOK) that genetically-modified tomato seeds bought from Israel could be ‘programmed’ to harm Turks, if not destroy the whole Turkish nation.
  • A suspicion by Turkish farmers that the above mentioned European Bee Eater was an Israeli intelligence device, because it “had what seemed to be a very enlarged nostril, leading one local official to suggest that perhaps the bird had been implanted with some kind of microchip or spying device.” That bird, too, was cleared by agriculture officials of any suspicion. (An official with Israel’s Society for the Protection of Nature told The Atlantic last year that that bird had been banded four years before in a routine effort to track migration patterns.)
  • An Iranian accusation that it had caught Mossad spy squirrels and spy pigeons.