VICE News journalists accused by Turkey of terrorism
The journalists were originally accused of filming a military base in Diyarbakir without permission. (AFP/File)
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Turkish officials charged two British VICE News journalists and a local journalist Monday with "working on behalf of a terrorist organization."
The two British journalists, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, and the local journalist, who serves as a translator and guide, were arrested Thursday at their hotel in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.
The men were initially accused of filming a military base without permission. They were interrogated by Turkish authorities about alleged links to the Islamic State and the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.
The journalists were arrested along with their driver, who has since been released. They were in the southeastern region filming battles between Turkish police and the Kurdish militants, VICE News said.
The men have denied all charges and future court dates have not been announced.
"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," Kevin Sutcliffe, VICE's head of news programming in Europe, said in a statement. "Prior to being unjustly detained, these journalists were reporting and documenting the situation in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakir."
Turkey has limited journalists' access to the region surrounding Diyarbakir where violent clashes between Turkish security forces and PKK members have erupted.
"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," Sutcliffe added. "We continue to work with all relevant authorities to expedite the safe release of our three colleagues and friends."
Turkey has previously been called the "biggest prison for journalists," but most foreign journalists would either be released or deported in the past. The country ranks 149th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Border's 2015 World Press Freedom Index.