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Journalists demand release of reporters held in Turkey

JOURNALISTS called yesterday for the immediate release of two British reporters charged and held over terrorism allegations in Turkey.

Vice News reporter Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendlebury are in pre-trial detention accused of assisting the self-proclaimed Islamic State (Isis) and banned socialist group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The two were arrested on Monday in Diyarbakir, south-eastern Turkey, along with a Turkish colleague who has not been named after filming clashes last Thursday between police and young PKK members.

They have been accused of “committing a crime in the name of an illegal organisation.” A date has yet to be set for a trial.

Vice’s head of news programming in Europe, Kevin Sutcliffe, said the charges were an “attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage” and “silence reporters.”

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) warned that Turkey should observe ECHR rules on freedom of expression.

General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The NUJ continues to be alarmed at the scale of attacks against press freedom in Turkey, a member of the Council of Europe, and the government should abide by article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of expression.

“They are not terrorists, they are journalists and should not be treated as criminals,” she added.

Both the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) backed the NUJ in demanding that authorities release the detainees.

IFJ president Jim Boumelha said that the charges brought without evidence were “unsubstantiated, as it makes no sense why professional journalists would collude with terrorist organisations.”

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