Call for Turkish authorities to release detained Vice News journalists

Öykü Altuntaş / Istanbul, Aug 31 () - Global rights organizations have called on Turkish authorities to release- without any charges- the four journalists who are affiliated to the British Vice News organization, who have been detained in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır province, while covering the developments in the region, Vice News reported. The journalists will appear in court today in Turkey.

Leading rights organizations such as Amnesty International, PEN International, and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) have all condemned the decision, told the report.

On Thursday August 27, two British journalists Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury with two other colleagues — a fixer and a driver —have been taken into custody while they were reporting the regional developments in the city of Diyarbakir.

Turkish security sources have declared the journalists have been detained for filming without government accreditation, and accused the team of supporting the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Vice News’ report highlighted that along with the decision of detainment, security officers have seized camera equipment of the journalists and searched their hotel rooms.

Amnesty International has issued a statement declaring the decision to detain the journalists was “wrong”, while the allegation of assisting the Islamic State was “unsubstantiated, outrageous, and bizarre".

Accordingly, Nina Ognianova, the coordinator of the CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program, has defended that the renewed clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish separatists in southeast were of public interest to both international and domestic audiences.

“Authorities ought to protect — not gag — journalists on the job" Ognianova said and called on officials to release the journalists.

Zeynep Oral, president of PEN Turkey, has added that it was becoming increasingly difficult for journalists to work in Turkey.

"In a period of uncertainty, both in the country and in the region, we are in the greatest need of freedom of expression and the right to know” told Oral.

The report reminded a VICE News spokesperson’s announcement that the journalists would "face unsubstantiated charges of terrorism" when they appear in court on Monday August 31.


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