Two British journalists working for Vice News have been charged by a court in Turkey of “working on behalf of a terrorist organisation.”
Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury had been detained along with their colleague Mohammed Ismael Rasool in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir last week. They had been filming clashes between Kurds and the Turkish police.
Vice News Head of News Kevin Sutcliffe said: “Today the Turkish government has levelled baseless and alarmingly false charges of ‘working on behalf of a terrorist organisation’ against three Vice News reporters, in an attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage. 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.”
Amnesty International also condemned the Turkish actions. In a statement the group said: “It is completely proper 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.”
The president of English PEN Maureen Freely condemned Turkish President Recep Eerdogan who she said was attempting once again to suppress the media. Erdogan, she said, has “intensified his efforts to crush all critical coverage, but most particularly coverage of the escalating conflicts in the predominantly Kurdish southeast.”
Nina Ognianova from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also condemned the move saying: “The renewed clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish separatists in the volatile southeast are of public interest to both domestic and international audiences. Authorities ought to protect, not gag journalists on the job.”
The Turkish government has long been accused of harassing journalists in a bid to prevent them reporting on the plight of the Kurds.
Earlier this year Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink was charged with aiding the Kurdish PKK by making “terrorist propaganda”. Although acquitted her case remains pending.
Analysis written By Selin Girit, August 31, 2015. BBC News, Istanbul.