Turkey frees 2 VICE News reporters but third remains in custody

New York, September 3, 2015–A Turkish court early today ordered the release of VICE News’ British journalists Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, according to their outlet. A third journalist, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, an Iraqi who is based in Turkey, is still in custody and is being questioned by Turkish authorities, according to news reports. The three were arrested on Thursday and have been charged with “aiding a terrorist organization.” Hanrahan and Pendlebury are allowed to leave the country, but the charges against the three have not been dropped, news reports said.

“We are relieved that two of our colleagues are free, but we are concerned that Mohammed Ismael Rasool is still behind bars,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We call on Turkish authorities to release him immediately and drop these ridiculous charges against all three journalists.”

Authorities detained the three in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir where they were covering renewed clashes between Turkish security forces and separatists with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A fourth individual, a Turkish driver, was also detained but has been released. Turkey was the world’s worst jailer of journalists in 2012 and 2013, but released dozens in 2014, bringing to seven the number of journalists behind bars, according to a December 1 prison census conducted by CPJ.

  • For data and analysis on Turkey, visit CPJ’s Turkey page.