Two British journalists arrested in Turkey on terror charges are in “good health and spirits” after arriving back in the UK, their employer Vice News said.
Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendlebury were detained while filming clashes between police and youth members of the pro-Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) on 27 August.
They were accused of working on behalf of a terrorist organisation and assisting Islamic State before they were released.
Vice News confirmed the pair had returned to Britain but they remained “extremely concerned” for their Turkish-based colleague Mohammed Ismael Rasool, who is still in custody.
Before the two journalists were released, the Foreign Office said the UK expected Turkey to allow freedom of expression. A spokesman said: “Respect for freedom of expression and the right of media to operate without restriction are fundamental in any democratic society.
Hanrahan was asked why he had written the acronym “PKK,” together with notes on the organization and its leader, in his confiscated notebook. He said,”I am a reporter. I have to know the organization, their leaders and goals [for the story] I am working on.” He was also questioned about a phone number he had to contact the YDG-H members.
The lawyer for the journalists said: “It’s the first time since 1993 that two journalists are arrested like this. The two claims — being supporters for ISIS and aiding the YDG-H — are inconsistent, Intelligence agencies or the police may have been disturbed by their journalistic activities. This arrest is a result of the resumption of armed clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces, especially as seen as a means of intimidation for the international media to block it from covering the area.”
Pendlebury’s sister Alex said on social media that the allegations against her brother were “ludicrous”. She posted on Facebook: “I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am. This has been the most difficult week of our lives but now the nightmare is over!”