Turkish authorities on Monday charged three Western news reporters in southeastern Turkey with working for a “terrorist organization,” said their employer VICE News on Monday, days after the journalists’ detention caused an outcry among human rights groups.
Jake Hanrahan, Philip Pendlebury, as well as a fixer and a driver were detained by the Turkish authorities while reportedly filming clashes between police and supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the province of Diyarbakir.
On Monday, they were charged in a Turkish court, VICE said. “Today the Turkish government has leveled baseless and alarmingly false charges of ‘working on behalf of a terrorist organization’ against three VICE News reporters, in an attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage,” said a spokesman for VICE.
A Turkish official said earlier that the reporters were detained “for questioning.” “They were detained at a sensitive area for questioning,” 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.”
According to Amnesty International and VICE, the Turkish police said that the journalists were arrested on suspicion of assisting ISIS. “It is completely proper that that journalists should cover this important story,” Amnesty said. “The decision to detain the journalists was wrong, while the allegation of assisting Islamic State is unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre.”
Clashes between the PKK and Turkey have escalated in recent months as Turkey has launched an air campaign in northern Iraq and within Turkey.