Vice News says reporter released on bail in Turkey

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2016 2:12 PM
Vice News says reporter released on bail in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Iraqi Kurdish journalist Mohammed Rasool has been released after 131 days in a Turkish prison, the organization he was working for said Tuesday. Rasool's arrest on charges of assisting a terrorist organization had been widely criticized by international media organizations.

Rasool, who was arrested in August while covering the conflict in Turkey's mostly Kurdish southeast, will be required to report to a police station twice a week and is barred from leaving the country.

"Rasool is now looking forward to being reunited with his family, friends and colleagues, who ask for his privacy to be respected during this time," Vice News said.

Rasool, 25, was working as a news assistant and translator when he was detained along with two Vice News journalists — Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury — in the city of Diyarbakir on Aug. 27. The two British journalists were released after 11 days and deported, while Rasool was sent to a high-security prison.

The three journalists had traveled to towns along Turkey's border with Iraq, the center of renewed violence between Kurdish militants and government forces.

Rasool's detention came amid a spike in prosecutions of journalists in Turkey, many charged with anti-terrorism offenses and under laws against insulting the president. Media advocacy groups had criticized his detention and called for his immediate release.

"We are relieved that Mohammed Ismael Rasool is free on bail after spending 131 days in a high-security prison on trumped up terrorism charges," said Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "We urge Turkish authorities to drop all charges against him and allow him to travel and work freely."

Rasool, an Iraqi citizen, has previously worked as a news assistant for The Associated Press and other media organizations.