Appeal for release of jailed journalist

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THE Wigan cameraman who spent a week in a Turkish jail on terror charges has spoken out over the ongoing detainment of one of his colleagues.

Phil Pendlebury, from Whitley, was arrested at the end of last month alongside reporter Jake Hanrahan and fixer Mohammed Rasool.

Phil Pendlebury (left) and Jake Hanrahan

Phil Pendlebury (left) and Jake Hanrahan

The three men were reporting of clashes between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party for Vice News when they were arrested and accused of being linked with Isis.

Despite Phil and Jake being released and allowed to return to the UK a week later, Mohammed was detained and still remains in custody.

This week, staff from Vice News – including Phil – have spoke affectionately of their colleague on the Vice website.

Phil said: “The way Rasool’s friends and fellow journalists continue to fight for his release is a testament to him and a reflection of what a great guy he really is. No one has a bad word to say about him. He’s smart, charming, and has an amazing ability to get on with pretty much anyone.

“Until his wrongful arrest one month ago, Rasool had a bright future ahead of him in Turkey. He weighed up his options as we filmed, trying to decide between a career in academia, journalism, maybe even politics. He speaks a staggering number of languages, and is only one month away from completing a master’s degree at a prestigious university in Istanbul.

“I see Rasool as a friend rather than a colleague. In between filming, we spent most of our time arguing about football and talking about girls, usually while smoking an ungodly amount of cigarettes. Usually I’ve no time for Arsenal fans, but with Rasool I decided to make an exception.”

Phil also spoke of how, despite his own release, he still doesn’t feel a sense of justice due to Rasool’s incarceration.

“We had some great experiences together in some pretty crazy situations, from Peshmerga bases in Iraq to rooftop parties in Turkey,” he added.

“Regardless of what’s going on around him, he’s always the same, walking around smiling, socializing, and acting completely unfazed by whatever comes his way. He’s someone with a real sense of curiosity and adventure, and I trust him implicitly.

“Despite my own release, the sense of injustice I feel toward this situation hasn’t changed at all. The idea that Rasool could be left languishing in a Turkish prison under totally bizarre and apparently false charges for months is an absolute travesty.

“I think most people would agree that someone willing to risk their life to report on stories like those in southeast Turkey, stories that need to be told, should not be punished.

“Hopefully the Turkish authorities will join us in recognizing that journalism is not a crime and allow us to see our much-loved, sorely-missed friend again very soon.”