US, EU voice concern over the arrest of VICE journalists in Turkey’s southeast
WASHINGTON / BRUSSELSThe United States and the European Union have both expressed their concern over the arrest of two British journalists in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, in line with international rights organizations.
A Diyarbakır court ruled for the arrest of U.S.-based media outlet VICE journalists Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury and their translator Muhammed Ismail Aug. 31 on charges of “engaging in terror activity” on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The United States State Department urged Turkey on Aug. 31 to revise its actions to match up with democratic values.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner noted that the actions of Turkish authorities should correspond to universal democratic values as well as freedom of expression.
“Freedom of expression, including for journalists and due process, are key elements in every healthy democracy and are enshrined, in fact, in the Turkish constitution as well as Turkey’s OSCE commitments and Turkey’s international human rights obligations. So as Turkey’s friend and NATO ally, we urge Turkish authorities to ensure their actions uphold universal democratic values, including due process, freedom of expression, as well as access to media and information,” said Toner speaking at the daily press briefing.
The European Union (EU) also expressed concern over the arrest of VICE journalists on Sept. 1, calling for an “independent and transparent investigation” into the “terrorism” charges.
“We are concerned... by the recent arrests of the VICE News journalists in Turkey on terrorism-related charges,” said EU diplomatic service spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.
Kocijancic also voiced concern on the Sept. 1 police raid on media outlets of the Koza Media Group, linked to the government’s ally-turned-nemesis Fethullah Gülen.
Turkish police detained Hanrahan and Pendlebury along with Ismail on Aug. 28 in the Bağlar district of Diyarbakır, where they were filming clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants.
On Aug. 31, international rights organizations, including Amnesty International, PEN International and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), demanded the journalists’ immediate release.
Kevin Sutcliffe, head of VICE’s news programming in Europe, also condemned the charges against its journalists, calling them “baseless and alarmingly false.”
“Today the Turkish government has leveled baseless and alarmingly false charges of ‘working on behalf of a terrorist organization’ against three VICE News reporters, in an attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage,” he said.
“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,” he added.