Campaign to free VICE news staff

Phil Pendlebury
Phil Pendlebury

TODAY we launch a campaign to get Wigan journalist Phil Pendlebury and his colleagues freed from a Turkish jail.

The Whitley 29-year-old, along with Vice News colleague Jake Hanrahan and Turkey-based Iraqi translator and journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool, have been incarcerated on what Amnesty International says are allegations of terrorism that are “unsubstantiated, outrageous and bizarre.”

We call on the Turkish government to throw out these ridiculous charges and immediately release our colleagues

Kevin Sutcliffe

The trio, who were covering clashes between Turkish police and the Kurdish rights group PKK were accused of collaborating with either PKK or the terrorist organisation Isis.

All three men have now been transported to a high-security “F-type” prison facility more than five hours away from where their legal representation is based, and from the court where they are due to appear.

Kevin Sutcliffe, VICE’s Head of News Programming in Europe said: “This move appears to be a blatant obstruction of the fair legal process that Turkey has repeatedly pledged to uphold. We call on the Turkish government to throw out these ridiculous charges and immediately release our colleagues.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are concerned at the arrest of two British journalists in Diyarbakir on August 31, who have been charged with assisting a terrorist organisation. The journalists have been given access to a lawyer and were in direct contact with consular officials within 24 hours of their detention.

“Respect for freedom of expression and the right of media to operate without restriction are fundamental in any democratic society. Turkey is a state party to the European Convention on Human Rights and UN Declaration of Human Rights. We would expect the Turkish authorities to uphold the obligations enshrined in those agreements.”

We as fellow journalists are calling on the Wigan community to unite and get behind the crusade to have Phil and his colleagues released immediately.

Please either tweet or share on Facebook using the hashtag #freeVICEnewsstaff as soon as possible.