ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Two Vice News journalists and their assistant who were arrested in Turkey on terror-related charges have been transferred to a prison more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) away from their lawyers and the courthouse where they face trial, a lawyer said Wednesday.
The two British journalists, correspondent Jake Hanrahan and cameraman Philip Pendlebury, and their Turkey-based assistant were detained last week in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey's mostly Kurdish southeast, where renewed fighting has killed scores of people.
A court ordered the three formally arrested late on Monday on charges of aiding a terror organization. All three have rejected the accusation.
Tahir Elci, head of the Diyarbakir lawyers' association, told The Associated Press by telephone in Diyarbakir that the three were taken to a prison in Adana, southern Turkey, on the grounds that there were English-speaking wardens and inmates there. Elci, however, said the move would hamper their defense.
Kevin Sutcliffe, Vice News' head of news programming in Europe, said the journalists were transported to a high-security prison where suspects convicted or accused of terror-related charges are kept, sometimes in isolation.
"This move appears to be a blatant obstruction of the fair legal process that Turkey has repeatedly pledged to uphold," said Sutcliffe. "We call on the Turkish government to throw out these ridiculous charges and immediately release our colleagues." A Turkish government spokesman could not be reached for comment.
The three were detained after filming in an area of Diyarbakir where Kurdish youths frequently clash with security forces.
Their arrests have prompted strong protests from media rights advocates, the U.S. and the European Union.
Vice News is a New York-based news channel that produces documentaries, breaking news reports and investigative pieces.
The arrests come amid a surge in government crackdowns on media freedoms in Turkey. Authorities frequently use vague anti-terrorism or libel laws to prosecute journalists, although international journalists have rarely been prosecuted in recent years. Several prominent Turkish journalists have been fired under government pressure, while access to websites is frequently blocked.