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Man accused of spying for the United Arab Emirates dies in Turkish custody

A man accused by Turkish authorities of spying for the United Arab Emirates has been found dead inside his prison cell, according to a statement released Monday by the Istanbul public prosecutor that suggested the suspect had killed himself.

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The man, whom prosecutors identified as Zaki Hasan, was one of two men arrested this month and charged with committing espionage on behalf of the UAE, a Persian Gulf state that Turkey views as a regional rival. Authorities said they were also investigating whether the men were connected to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last year.

Prosecutors have not disclosed the identity of the second man, the nationality of either suspect, or released any details about their activities while in Turkey.

The prosecutor’s statement said that Hasan died Sunday in Silivri Prison, outside of Istanbul. He was seen alive at 8:16 a.m., during a morning attendance check, the statement said. At 10:22 a.m., when food was served, a guard found Hasan “hanging on the door of the bathroom of his single-person cell,” the statement said, adding that an autopsy had been conducted.

The murky allegations of state spying and the suspect’s death come as Turkey and the UAE are entangled in a years-long, bitter dispute that has divided and unsettled the states of the Middle East. A fight for influence around the region pits a bloc led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia against Turkey and Qatar, and involves proxy militias, Internet hackers, lobbyists in Western capitals and spies.

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