Two British journalists working for Vice News and their translator have been detained in Turkey on charges of “aiding” the terrorist group ISIS.
The Turkish court ruled to arrest Jake Hanrahan, Mohammed Ismael Rasool and Philip John Pendlebury on Monday, according to journalist Mahir Zeynalov.
Kevin Sutcliffe, head of news programming for Vice Europe, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday that the men were taken to a prison facility five hours away from where their legal representation is based and where the court they are scheduled to appear in is located. He called the charges “entirely baseless and absurd.”
“This move appears to be a blatant obstruction of the fair legal process that Turkey has repeatedly pledged to uphold,” Sutcliffe said. “We call on the Turkish government to throw out these ridiculous charges and immediately release our colleagues.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Trio Was Taken Into Custody While Filming the Conflict Between the Turkish Army & the Kurdistan Workers’ Party
According to The Guardian, Hanrahan, Rasool and Pendlebury were taken into custody Thursday while they were filming the conflict between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
They were in the city of Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey.
2. Hanrahan, a Freelance Reporter, Posted Photos to Twitter Before His Arrest
Hanrahan, a freelance reporter who has also worked for The Guardian and The Independent, posted photos showing the conflict to Twitter prior to his arrest.
Pendlebury was the cameraman working with Hanrahan, while Rasool is a fixer and translator.
Vice said in a statement it “continues to work vigorously with all relevant authorities to secure the safe release of our four colleagues.”
3. The Journalists Appeared in Court for the First Time on Monday
The detained journalists and translator appeared in Turkish court for the first time on Monday.
“They were detained at a sensitive area for questioning. It was hard to understand who is what in that particular area where there were security issue going on,” a senior Turkish official told Al Jazeera. “It is up to the judiciary now. And if there are no illegal findings about them, it is likely that they will be released.”
4. Human Rights & Press Freedom Groups Have Called for Their Release
Amnesty International and several press freedom groups have called for the release of the journalists.
“It is completely proper that that journalists should cover this important story,” Amnesty said in a statement. “The decision to detain the journalists was wrong, while the allegation of assisting Islamic State is unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement, “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.”
PEN Turkey’s president, Zeynep Oral, said in a press release, “It is becoming increasingly difficult to carry out journalistic duties 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. We ask for justice and the immediate release of journalists doing their jobs.”
5. Hanrahan & Pendelbury Have Worked Together on Several Stories
According to Vice News, Hanrahan and Pendelbury, both experienced journalists, have worked together on several stories, including the migrant crisis in Calais, the Scottish independence referendum and republicanism in Ireland.