On Monday, a Turkish court charged two British journalists and their Iraqi translator working for Vice News with “engaging in terror activity” on behalf of ISIS. Their driver, who was once considered a suspect, was let go.
Reporter Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendlebury were reporting on the conflict between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and Turkish law enforcement, and were first taken into custody for filming without government permission. The ISIS charges weren’t introduced until later.
Amnesty International has called for the swift release of the journalists, until real evidence of wrongdoing can be found.
“This is yet another example of the Turkish authorities suppressing the reporting of stories that are embarrassing to them,” Andrew Gardner, the organization’s Turkey researcher said in a statement.
“It is completely proper that the journalists should cover this important story. The decision to detain the journalists was wrong, while the allegation of assisting Islamic state is unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre.”
Kevin Sutcliffe, Head of News Programming for Europe at Vice News, provided the following statement in an email to Jezebel:
“Today the Turkish government has leveled baseless and alarmingly false charges of ‘working on behalf of a terrorist organization’ against three VICE News reporters, in an attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage. Prior to being unjustly detained, these journalists were reporting and documenting the situation in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakir.
VICE News condemns in the strongest possible terms the Turkish government’s attempts to silence our reporters who have been providing vital coverage from the region. We continue to work with all relevant authorities to expedite the safe release of our three colleagues and friends.”
Turkey, especially under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is notorious for aggressively censoring journalists — in 2012 and 2013, the country was the world’s worst jailer of journalists, according to an annual report from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2014, Turkey dropped to tenth worldwide.
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Image via AP.