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Erdogan Government detains, charges 3 staff of US-based media outlet with terror links

1 September 2015 18:08



A Turkish court has detained and charged two British journalists and a translator working for a US-based media outlet with links to the Takfiri Daesh terror group.

The ruling on Monday by the court in the Kurdish-dominated city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey came as Vice News reporters, identified as Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, were reportedly filming a documentary on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) amid a recent surge of violent clashes between the Kurdish militants and Turkish security forces.

According to the court’s statement, the two reporters and their Iraqi translator were formally charged with “engaging in terror activity” on behalf of the Daesh terrorist group as well as “intentionally aiding an armed organization.”

This is while the American media channel, which produces in-depth video reports, censured the charges leveled against its staff as “baseless”.

The driver of the group, however, was released after being briefly detained, according to an AFP report, which noted that the four were arrested last week while covering the Kurdish unrest in southeast of the country, and that the three have been transferred to a jail in Diyarbakir ahead of a trial.

No details have yet been released about the alleged evidence linking the group to the Takfiri militants. The detainees have denied the charges in the presence of their lawyers.

Kurdish militants lob fireworks at an armored police vehicle during clashes with Turkish police in Istanbul on August 27, 2015. (AFP photo)

According to the report, the team had been visiting the Kurdish region amid the persisting campaign by Turkish security forces against the PKK militants and their supporters while a number of local Kurdish officials were arrested and accused of supporting declarations of self rule.

Meanwhile, there has been surging concerns over declining press freedoms in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and particularly over the rising number of journalists facing prosecution for allegedly insulting senior officials.

A masked Kurdish militant holds a Molotov cocktail in front of a burning barricade during clashes with Turkish police in the Gazi district of Istanbul on August 27,2015. (AFP photo)

Additionally, Erdogan sparked major outrage in the run-up to Turkey’s June 7 elections by openly stating that opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper editor-in-chief Can Dundar would “pay a heavy price” over a front-page story that claimed to prove Turkey had shipped weaponry to the Takfiri terrorists fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.

Turkey is widely believed to be the key backer and supplier of armaments to Daesh terrorists engaged in battles against the governments in Syria and Iraq as well as ethnic communities, including Kurds, Shias, Izadis, Turkmens and even Sunni tribes in the two Arab countries.

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