Turkey arrests 3 Vice News journalists on terrorism charges

The New York Times reports: Three journalists for Vice News have been formally arrested in southeast Turkey and charged with aiding a terrorist organization, four days after they were detained while covering the conflict between Kurdish separatists and the Turkish state.

News media rights groups denounced a ruling on Monday by a Turkish court, which said that Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, both British citizens, and their Iraqi news assistant had “knowingly and willingly helped an armed terrorist organization” without being a part of its “hierarchical structure,” the semiofficial Anadolu News Agency reported.

Although the court did not name the terrorist organization, Tahir Elci, the head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association in southeast Turkey, who is representing the journalists, said that the three had been accused of having links to the Islamic State and the YDG-H, a group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The Kurdish group, which is often referred to by its Turkish initials, P.K.K., is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

“They were accused of meeting and siding with both the Islamic State and the P.K.K.-affiliated group,” Mr. Elci said in a telephone interview from Diyarbakir. “The accusations are based on video footage, documents and photographs seized from the journalists.”

Turkey’s broad antiterror laws have created an increasingly difficult environment for journalists, according to news media advocates. For several years, Turkey had jailed more journalists than any other country, and this year, it ranked 149th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders news media freedom index. [Continue reading…]

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