(JTA) — The Jewish organizational leader said to be detained on a Turkish sex yacht denied being arrested in the breakup of an alleged prostitution ring aboard the boat.
A spokesman for Alexander Mashkevich, head of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, said Mashkevich was neither charged nor arrested in the incident, when several businessmen and young women were detained aboard a Turkish yacht in late September. The boat allegedly was rented out regularly as part of a sex-trade scheme in which passengers would pay several thousand dollars for a night of sexual escapades aboard the yacht, which once belonged to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
The spokesman, Roman Spektor, said it is not clear whether or not Mashkevich was even aboard the yacht in question. Mashkevich could not be reached for comment.
"There was nothing criminal and nothing immoral," Spektor told JTA. "Investigators did not even open a case against Mr. Mashkevich."
Israeli news website Ynet cited Turkish reports as saying that they have documents proving Mashkevitch paid up front to rent the yacht for five days and that the prostitutes were aboard.
Spektor said he sees a conspiracy behind the allegations. The rumors of Mashkevich’s involvement, he said, were evidence of a well-managed and planned campaign in order to ruin the reputation of Mashkevich, a billionaire philanthropist who holds Israeli and Kazakh citizenship.
The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, a branch of the World Jewish Congress, put out a statement saying that the Turkish government is encouraging the publication of "deceitful gossip" in "unreliable Turkish mass media," possibly as part of a wider anti-Israeli campaign.
The statement from the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress said that Mashkevich was on a "business cruise on a yacht with several friends and colleagues" when "the boat was routinely checked by the Coast Guard."
Mashkevich was never implicated in wrongdoing, and claims to the contrary are "false and provocational," the statement said.