British reporters detained in Turkey questioned by prosecutors

31st August 2015, Comments 0 comments

Two British reporters working for Vice News who were detained last week covering unrest in Kurdish-majority southeast Turkey were being questioned by prosecutors Monday.

Local judicial officials said the prosecutors were questioning the reporters for the New York-based news website in the main southeastern city of Diyarbakir to decide whether they should be brought before judges.

The two reporters, along with a Turkish citizen and one other man, have been held in police custody since their detention last week.

They have been accused of assisting jihadist group Islamic State, local judicial officials said, but no concrete evidence has been put forward and they have not been charged.

Reports said that they were arrested after police acted on a tip-off and confiscated the footage shot during their reporting. All have denied the accusations in the presence of their lawyers.

Vice News, an Internet-based channel which produces in-depth video reports, named the two British journalists in a statement as Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury.

It also said that while sources initially said they were detained for filming without government accreditation, they have then been "accused of supporting the so-called Islamic State (IS)."

A Vice News spokesperson said the journalists will "face unsubstantiated charges of terrorism".

The team had been visiting the region as the government wages a relentless campaign against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants, with several local Kurdish officials arrested and accused of supporting declarations of self rule.

Amnesty International has called for the release of the journalists, calling the accusations against them "outrageous and bizarre".

"This is yet another example of the Turkish authorities suppressing the reporting of stories that are embarrassing to them," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's Turkey Researcher.

"They should release the journalists immediately," he added.

There has been growing concern about deteriorating press freedoms on Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and in particular over the numbers of journalists facing legal proceedings on accusations of insulting top officials.

© 2015 AFP

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