Journalist tells of Turkish arrest hell before release

Jake Hanrahan and Phil Pendlebury (left)

Jake Hanrahan and Phil Pendlebury (left)

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THE journalist detained for a week in a Turkish jail on terror charges alongside Wigan camera man Phil Pendlebury has spoken of his horrific experience.

Jake Hanrahan was arrested with Phil and their Iraqi fixer Mohammed Rasool while filming conflict between police and youth members of the pro-Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) on August 27.

The British pair, who work for Vice News, were eventually released but Mohammed remains in custody and is the subject of a campaign for his release.

Jake has written for Vice’s website, saying: “Journalists are becoming less welcome in the country by the day.

“We discovered this on the night of our arrest, when we were charged, bizarrely, with assisting IS and plotting to blow up a police station. The charges, contradictory and false, changed several times as the investigation went on. No evidence was put to us whatsoever that could possibly support any of them. They were ridiculous, and aimed at silencing and discrediting our journalism. What’s most distressing though, is that our friend Rasool still remains behind bars in a Turkish prison.

“Phil, Rasool and I were friends beforehand, but after spending eight arduous days together in the Turkish prison system, we bonded deeply. We’d been constantly pushed around by angry nationalist policemen (one of whom threatened to shoot us), handcuffed for seven hours in the back of a sweltering military vehicle without water, and slept on filthy mattresses and concrete floors. Despite all of this, we’d managed to hold it together well by finding support in each other.

“So when a prison guard told Phil and I that we were free, it was all the more heartbreaking that we had to leave Rasool behind. We wrapped our arms around him and promised we’d fight for him on the outside. His face was blank — completely shocked. He just nodded and said, ‘Get me out of here guys.’ Within 30 seconds we were rushed out of the cell. Being white and Western, with British passports, both Phil and I were released from the F­ Type early. Unlike us, Rasool, as a Kurdish Iraqi, had no powerful government going to bat for him behind the scenes.

“So, Phil and I were taken to the Adana detention centre, where for three days we lived among imprisoned refugees, former Syrian rebels, and alleged IS members.

“Upon arrival, we had no idea how long we would be staying or why we were there.”

A petition to free Rasool has been set up and can be signed here: http://tinyurl.com/freerasool.