Amnesty calls for release of three journalists working for VICE in Turkey

“It is completely proper that that 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.”

Three journalists working for VICE News who have been detained in Turkey, should be released immediately unless the authorities can demonstrate credible evidence of criminal acts, said Amnesty International.

Two UK-based journalists, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury and a third journalist were detained by anti-terrorism police officers on Thursday night in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır in south-east Turkey.

VICE news told Amnesty that the detentions took place while the journalists were filming clashes between police and pro- Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) youths taking place in the city.

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher, said:

“This is yet another example of the Turkish authorities suppressing the reporting of stories that are embarrassing to them. They should release the journalists immediately.

“It is completely proper that that 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.”

Police sources in Diyabakır confirmed to Amnesty that the journalists had been detained on suspicion of assisting the armed group that calls itself Islamic State (IS, commonly known as Deash in Turkey). Amnesty spoke to the journalists’ lawyer who said that the journalists’ hotel rooms had been searched and their camera equipment and footage impounded by police.

Turkey has a dismal record of abusing its anti-terror laws in order to suppress dissent, frequently targeting journalists. Frederike Geerdink, an international journalist based in Diyarbakir was prosecuted earlier this year in a baseless case, accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. She was acquitted by a local court in April,but the case remains pending on appeal.

Journalists in Turkey have come under increased obstructions while filming or reporting from the region, with the escalation of violence between the PKK and the security forces that has occurred since 20 July 2015, effectively ending a three-year cease-fire and a fragile peace process. 

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