Turkey frees Vice journalists, translator remains jailed

Turkey relases two arrested British journalists, yet their translator remains under arrest

Photo by: Twitter
Photo by: Twitter

Vice News reporter Jake Hanrahan, one of the two Vice News reporters arrested in Turkey over terrorism charges.

Updated Jan 2, 2016

Turkey has released two Vice News journalists who were arrested over charges of being affiliated with the outlawed PKK terrorist group on Thursday, while their translator still remains in prision. 

The journalists and the translator were transported to a high-security "F-type" prison in the southern province of Adana from the Diyarbakir province where they were arrested. 

Three staff members from Vice News - including two British journalists Jacob Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, and their Iraqi translator Mohammed Ismael Rasool - were detained by police upon the order of a Turkish court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir on Aug. 31.

Tahir Elci, the head of the Diyarbakir lawyers' association, said by telephone to the Associated Press that three were taken to a prison in southern province of Adana on the grounds that there were English-speaking guards and inmates there.  

Iraqi translator Rasool was reported to have a military-grade encryption system on his personal computer and he has refused to decrypt the encryption system so an official review can be conducted. This was what presented further suspicions about the actual nature of what journalists were doing in Turkey, reports indicated. 

Following the discovery of the encryption system on the translator’s computer, Turkish cyber-security experts determined that the system is commonly used by ISIS members.

Judicial sources also stated that the decision to arrest the journalists came after the Diyarbakir police stated that they had concerns about the multiple contradictions in the defendants’ testimonies.

Court records stated that a police search conducted in the hotel room of the trio, revealed a diary that allegedly contained information about the organisational structure, activities and members of the PKK, and its affiliate, the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK); as well as information about the group’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The diary reportedly contained information about other militant groups as well, including the far-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), and the outlawed militant Turkish Communist Party/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML), which is a far-left organisation carrying out illegal activities and armed attacks aimed at establishing Marxist-Leninist rule in the country.

All four groups are listed as terrorist organisations by Turkey.

The report also stated that other evidence, such as footage filmed by the journalists, showing the militants of the PKK’s youth wing while preparing Molotov cocktails and homemade explosives.

Following the investigation of these evidences, the court decided to arrest the three for "knowingly and willfully helping the armed terrorist organisation without being a part of its hierarchical structure.”

TRTWorld and agencies