Mohammed Ismael Rasool

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Rasool, a Turkey-based Iraqi journalist, was working as a fixer with VICE News journalists Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, who are both British, in southeastern Turkey when they were arrested in the province of Diyarbakır on August 27, 2015, according to reports.

The three journalists, who were detained along with their Turkish driver, had been covering clashes between Turkish security forces and separatists with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to reports. Rasool was accused of aiding an illegal organization, according to a prosecution document that CPJ has viewed. In late 2015, he had not been officially charged and no indictment against him has been issued, according to people familiar with his case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity. Rasool is being held at the Kürkçüler F-Type High Security Prison in the southern Turkish city of Adana, these people told CPJ.

According to court documents, the reason for the group’s arrest was an anonymous call claiming the journalists had been in contact with the militant group Islamic State. While in detention, the three were asked whether they sympathized with the PKK, according to the prosecution document, which details the testimony given by the journalists during questioning. The journalists denied ties to either group and stated they were only reporting current events. The journalists were asked about their notes, the pictures and video they captured, and the people they interviewed, according to the document.

Hanrahan, Pendlebury, and the driver were later released, according to reports. Hanrahan and Pendlebury were deported to the UK on September 3, 2015. CPJ was unable to determine whether they will face charges.

In October 2015, CPJ and VICE News started a petition to free Rasool. The same month, CPJ participated in a joint mission to Turkey to highlight conditions for the press before the November 1 election. The mission highlighted the case of Rasool and called for his immediate release. In late October, the Directorate General of Prisons and Detention Houses, which is part of Turkey’s Justice Ministry, denied the joint mission a visit with Rasool in prison. The directorate did not give a reason for the denial.