Turkey frees on bail Vice News translator after four months in prison


Diyarbakir (Turkey) (AFP)

The authorities in southeast Turkey on Tuesday freed on bail an Iraqi translator working for US-based news site Vice News after more than four months in detention but he still faces trial, judicial sources and the media outlet said.

Mohammed Ismael Rasool was detained on August 27 in the centre of the majority Kurdish city of Diyarbakir along with two British reporters from Vice News, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury.

The three were remanded in custody on terror charges but the two British journalists were released on September 3 and deported.

Rasool was held for a total of 131 days without any date for a trial being fixed, adding to concerns over press freedom in Turkey under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Judicial sources told AFP in Diyarbakir that Rasool still faced trial and was not allowed to leave Turkish territory until the process has been completed.

"Vice News is pleased to confirm its reporter, Mohammed Rasool has been released on bail having been held in a Turkish prison for 131 days," the media outlet added in a statement.

"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," it added.

Vice News had condemned the charges against its journalists as "baseless" and "alarmingly false", and leading rights groups had called for their immediate release.

The case of the Vice News reporters has amplified concerns over the difficulties in reporting on southeast Turkey, where the government is waging a relentless campaign against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants.