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Image: Getty Images/AFP/I. Akengin

Vice News reporters held in Turkey

September 1, 2015

Two Vice News reporters from Britain and their translator have been arrested after state lawyers accused them of having links with a terror group. They were working in a Kurdish majority area in Turkey's southeast.

https://p.dw.com/p/1GOmF

Two British journalists, Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendelbury, were arrested along with their translator while reporting from Diyarbakir, in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast. The area is believed to be a stronghold of the banned Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).

"Although the suspects were not involved in the terrorist organization's hierarchy, it was decided that they were arrested for helping the organization willingly," Diyarbakir's chief prosecutor told journalists without naming any specific group.

The reporters were believed to have been in close contact with members of the banned PKK. Last week, Vice's Hanrahan posted photos on his Twitter feed taken in an area under the rebel group's control.

Vice's head of news programming for Europe Kevin Sutcliffe condemned the detention, calling it "the Turkish government's attempts to silence our reporters who have been providing vital coverage from the region."

"Prior to being unjustly detained, these journalists were reporting and documenting the situation," Sutcliffe said in his statement. "We will continue to work with all relevant authorities to expedite the safe release of our three colleagues and friends," he added.

The Kurdish majority area, a stronghold of the banned Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), recently witnessed clashes between Kurdish militants and Turkish security forces. Around 60 soldiers, police officers and village guards, and 90 PKK rebels have been killed since the fighting began this July, bringing a 2012 peace process to a halt.

Press activists worry that the clashes may further plunge Turkey's press freedom ranking. US officials on Monday urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in Ankara to ensure its actions "uphold universal democratic values, including due process, freedom of expression as well as access to media and information."

mg/jm (Reuters, AFP)

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