Human Rights Groups Call for Release of Vice Journalists Accused of Supporting ISIS

‘Baseless and alarmingly false’ accusations, says Vice

Two British Vice News journalists and their fixer remain in custody today in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir.

Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury are charged with "working on behalf of a terrorist organization," namely the Islamic State (ISIS) as well as another Turkish organization.

Hanrahan and Pendlebury have been detained since last Thursday. The group's driver was let go without charges, AFP reported Monday.

Kevin Sutcliffe, Vice's head of news programming in Europe, called the arrests "baseless and alarmingly false." He condemned the actions of the Turkish government:

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

Human Rights groups including Amnesty International and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) have called for the release of the journalists and their fixer. "This is yet another example of the Turkish authorities suppressing the reporting of stories that are embarrassing to them. They should release the journalists immediately," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's Turkey researcher. "It is completely proper that journalists should cover this important story. The decision to detain the journalists was wrong, while the allegation of assisting Islamic State is unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre."

"We call on Diyarbakir authorities to immediately release Jake Hanrahan, Philip Pendlebury and their fixer, and allow them to continue working in the region," CPJ Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Nina Ognianova said last week after the journalists were first detained. "The renewed clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish separatists in the volatile southeast are of public interest to both domestic and international audiences. Authorities ought to protect, not gag journalists on the job."

The journalists were reporting on the unrest in the predominantly Kurdish region, following an uprising by Kurdish separatists and the resumption of Turkish military operations against their targets in Turkey and Northern Iraq.