September 3, 2015 / 12:25 PM / in 3 years

Two Vice News reporters released in southeast Turkey

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Two Vice News journalists arrested in southeast Turkey on charges of having links to a terrorist organization have been released, their lawyer and a Turkish government source said on Thursday.

A Turkish court freed the two British journalists but ruled to keep their fixer, an Iraqi national, in custody pending investigation after assessing an appeal request from the trio’s lawyers.

The arrest of the journalists on Monday caused an uproar from rights groups and raised concerns about Ankara’s record on press freedoms at a time when Turkey is taking on a bigger role in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria and cracking down on Kurdish militants at home.

Vice News, which condemned the journalists’ arrest and had called the move “an attempt by the Turkish government to silence our reporters” said it ‘was grateful’ that journalists were freed but has called for the release of its other employee.

“We are deeply worried by reports that our other VICE News colleague, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, has had his appeal of release rejected by the Turkish government,” Vice News said in an emailed statement.

“We call on the Turkish authorities for a swift end to this unjust detainment and to grant his immediate release.”

The three were detained last Friday in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir while filming clashes between security forces and Kurdish militants.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has fought a three-decade insurgency for greater Kurdish autonomy, in which some 40,000 people have been killed. Turkey and the United States consider the group a terrorist organization.

Reporting by Seyhmus Cakan and Orhan Coskun,; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk, Editing by Nick Tattersall and Angus MacSwan

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