Turkish court charges reporters with terrorism links

By REUTERS
August 31, 2015 23:14
1 minute read.

 
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DIYARBAKIR - A Turkish court on Monday formally charged three employees of Vice News with having links to a terrorist organization, the online news channel said, days after they were detained while reporting from the mainly Kurdish southeast.

Security sources and local media identified the three as two British reporters and their translator. Their arrest is likely to intensify concerns about press freedom as Ankara takes on a bigger role in the US-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria and cracks down on Kurdish militants at home.

"Vice News condemns in the strongest possible terms the Turkish government's attempts to silence our reporters who have been providing vital coverage from the region," Kevin Sutcliffe, Vice's head of news programming for Europe, said in a statement.

"We continue to work with all relevant authorities to expedite the safe release of our three colleagues and friends."

Security sources and local media said last week that Britons Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendelbury and their translator were detained in Diyarbakir where they were filming clashes between security forces and Kurdish militants.

The banned Kurdistan Workers Party (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 organisation.

In a statement, the Diyarbakir chief prosecutor said: "Although the suspects were not involved in the terrorist organization's hierarchy, it was decided that they were arrested for helping the organization willingly". The chief prosecutor did not name the PKK outright.

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