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British VICE News journalists freed in Turkey; local journalist still imprisoned

By Andrew V. Pestano
British VICE News journalists freed in Turkey; local journalist still imprisoned
VICE News journalists Jake Hanrahan, pictured, and Philip Pendlebury, along with a local journalist, were charged with "working on behalf of a terrorist organization" by Turkey on Monday. Hanrahan and Pendlebury were freed on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Jake Hanrahan/Twitter

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Turkey on Thursday freed two British VICE News journalists arrested last week week on charges they worked "on behalf of a terrorist organization."

Authorities arrested Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury were arrested Aug. 27 at their hotel in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir along with their driver and a local journalist, identified as Mohammed Ismael Rasool who serves as a translator and guide. The driver was previously released without charge. Ismael Rasool was still imprisoned.

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"The legal process for the translator is still going on," a Turkish official said, according to Al Jazeera.

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.

They were in the southeastern region filming battles between Turkish police and the Kurdish militants, VICE News said.

Turkey has limited journalists' access to the region surrounding Diyarbakir where violent clashes between Turkish security forces and PKK members have erupted.

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.

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