Turkey Releases Third Vice News Journalist

AP/Elena Becatoros, File
AP/Elena Becatoros, File

In the long-delayed final act of a story from last summer, Turkey has released VICE News journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool on bail.

Rasool, an Iraqi journalist based in Turkey, was arrested with British journalists Phil Pendlebury and Jake Hanrahan while the three were working on a story about a street battle between Turkish authorities and the militant youth wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkish prosecutors charged the reporters with aiding a terrorist organization, although the charges were rather flexible about which organization: the PKK or ISIS. One of the key allegations in the case was that Rasool’s computer harbored encryption software similar to a program used by Islamic State militants.

More recently, Turkish Interim Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu claimed there was “clear evidence” linking Rasool to the PKK; in fact, he described Rasool as an active member of that organization.

VICE News denounced the charges against all three men as “baseless and alarmingly false.” Pendlebury and Hanrahan were released after a week and deported, but the Turkish government denied Rasool an appeal. VICE called for Rasool’s immediate release, as well, but only now, after 131 days of imprisonment without a trial, has he been set free.

Nonetheless, according to VICE News, Rasool has been told he is prohibited from leaving Turkey and must report twice a week to a local police station, so he is essentially on parole.