Vice News reporter Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendlebury, who were arrested in Turkey last week, have reportedly been released. A Turkish official told the Associated Press that “He did not know if [Hanrahan and Pendleury] would be allowed to leave Turkey or were required to remain in the country pending trial.” The journalists’ Turkey-based Iraqi fixer, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, remains in jail, according to Al Jazeera.
Hanrahan, Pendlebury, and Rasool were taken into custody in the province of Diyarbakır, where they were documenting clashes between government forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party, a militant group. A local judge charged them with supporting the Islamic State. “The main issue seems to be that the fixer uses a complex encryption system on his personal computer that a lot of [ISIS] militants also utilize for strategic communications,” a Turkish official told Al Jazeera. Meanwhile, a lawyer representing Rasool, Ahmet Ay, told the news organization that “It is important to stress that it [the existence of encrypted hard drives] is currently only an allegation” against his client.
In a statement, Vice said: “While we are grateful that [Hanrahan and Pendlebury] have been freed, we are deeply worried by reports that our other VICE News colleague, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, has had his appeal of release rejected by the Turkish government. Rasool is an experienced journalist and translator who has worked extensively across the Middle East with VICE News, Associated Press, and Al Jazeera. We call on the Turkish authorities for a swift end to this unjust detainment and to grant his immediate release.”