Vice News Reporters Held in Turkey Return to Britain


Two British reporters working for US-based media outlet Vice News who were detained for several days on terror charges in Turkey have returned to Britain after being released, the company said on Sunday.

“VICE News is pleased to confirm two of our journalists, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, have been released from a Turkish prison and have returned to the UK,” it said in a statement.

“Both are in good health and spirits, but they — and everyone else at VICE News — remain extremely concerned for our third colleague, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, who is still being held,” it said.

Hanrahan, Pendlebury and Rasool, their Iraqi translator, were detained along with their driver on August 27 in the centre of the majority Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey.

The driver was released, while the remaining three were accused of “engaging in terror activity”.

A court then ordered Hanrahan and Pendlebury to be released on September 3 but it was not immediately clear at the time if the two would face further legal proceedings or if they were free to leave Turkey.

Their return to Britain coincided with the arrest of a Dutch journalist based in southeastern Turkey who covers chiefly Kurdish issues.

Frederike Geerdink wrote on Twitter Sunday that she had been arrested in the Yuksekova district of Hakkari province while reporting on the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Geerdink, who was arrested earlier this year on charges of spreading “terrorist propaganda” but later acquitted of the charges, said she was with a group of “human shields” at the time, and that the entire group had been taken into custody.

Her case and that of the Vice News reporters have amplified concerns over press freedoms in Turkey, where the government is waging a relentless campaign against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.

Vice News had condemned the charges against its journalists as “baseless” and “alarmingly false”, and leading rights groups had called for their immediate release.