An Iraqi journalist working with the U.S.-based Vice News was released Tuesday from prison in Turkey after more than four months in prison, where he and two other colleagues were filming and reporting on clashes between government forces and guerillas from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Today, 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,” Vice News said in a statement on its website Tuesday.
"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."
Rasool, along with Vice reporters Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, were arrested in the mainly-Kurdish Diyarbakir province in August last year and accused of “aiding a terrorist organization.” However, the two British journalists, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, were released 11 days later and charges against them were dropped as Rasool was left to flounder in jail.
As we celebrate Rasool’s release, let us not forget one of his lawyers, Tahir Elci, who was killed while defending human rights.— Ceylan Yeginsu (@CeylanWrites) January 5, 201
According to media reports, a Diyarbakir court order said no bail payment has been made and that Rasool was detained "as a protective measure." According to the report, he has also been forbidden from leaving the country and must report to a police station close to his residence twice a week.
The arrest of the Vice reporters comes as Turkey cracks down on press and journalists. The Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) announced Monday that around 500 journalists were fired in 2015 due to unprecedented pressure on media in the country.
The group added that at least 30 journalists were arrested in 2015 for “offences” related to journalism and remain in jail, adding that “more than 200 news websites were blocked.”
The PKK and the Turkish state were engaged in a war for almost 30 years until a 2013 cease-fire was declared and the two sides began to hold peace talks.
The peace process collapsed last summer and violence has resumed between security forces and the PKK in different parts of Turkey. Hundreds of PKK fighters, civilians and security forces have been killed since July last year.
WATCH: Media Review - TURKEY