Two Vice News journalists arrested earlier this week in Turkey's southeast on charges of having links to a terrorist organization were released Thursday, a Turkish government source said.
The journalists' assistant and translator, an Iraqi national, remained in custody pending investigation. The arrest of the two reporters and their fixer in the town of Diyarbakir drew condemnation from rights groups concerned about Turkey's record on press freedom.
Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendelbury were arrested with their assistant while filming clashes between security forces and Kurdish militants in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. 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 earlier this week without naming any specific group.
The reporters were believed to have been in close contact with members of the PKK.
The head of news programming for Vice Europe, Kevin Sutcliffe condemned the detention, calling it "the Turkish government's attempt to silence our reporters who have been providing vital coverage from the region."
The Kurdish majority area 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 again this July. The violence brought a 2012 peace process to a halt.
Outlawed PKK has fought a three-decade insurgency for greater Kurdish autonomy, in which some 40,000 people have been killed. Turkey and the United States consider the group a terrorist organization.
dr/jm (AP, Reuters)