Turkey charges British journos with aiding terrorists

  • 01/09/2015

A Turkish court has charged two Vice News journalists and their assistant with "aiding a terrorist organisation" and ordered them arrested pending trial.

Their employer has called the charges "baseless and alarmingly false".

Correspondent Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendlebury, and their Turkey-based assistant were detained on Thursday while reporting from Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, where renewed fighting between security forces and Kurdish rebels has killed scores of people.

A court official says the court in Diyarbakir ordered the three arrested on Monday.

It wasn't immediately clear which organisation the journalists are accused of aiding.

It is not uncommon for journalists to be taken into custody while reporting from Turkey's mostly Kurdish regions and several Kurdish journalists have been jailed for alleged links to the Kurdish rebels.

While foreigners, including some journalists, were arrested and prosecuted in the 1990s on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda, such trials have become rare in recent years.

Vice News, a New York-based news organisation that produces documentaries, breaking news reports and investigative pieces, issued a statement criticising the decision to arrest the journalists.

"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," said Kevin Sutcliffe, Vice News' head of news programming Europe.

"Prior to being unjustly detained, these journalists were reporting and documenting the situation" in Diyarbakir, he said.

The three were detained in Diyarbakir's Baglar district where Kurdish youths frequently clash with security officials.

Sutcliffe called for their immediate and safe release.

In January, a Dutch freelance journalist based in Diyarbakir was briefly arrested and later acquitted of charges of engaging in propaganda in favour of the Kurdish rebel group in a series of social media postings.