The photographers were released after 31 hours of detention, when lawyers sent by the German embassy and another by colleagues started working the case, and their arrests gained widespread media attention. They are still officially under investigation, but were not deported and managed to retrieve their equipment and belongings.Yet they have not been the only members of the international press to be targeted while covering Kobane or the associated protests. In one well-publicized incident, police fired teargas canisters at a BBC minibus near the Kobane border crossing, setting it on fire.Johann Bihr, the head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk at Reporters Without Borders, told VICE News: "We have noted several cases of attacks against journalists trying to cover the riots and demonstrations by the police… Obviously no lessons have been learnt from the Gezi Park protests [in 2013 which saw heavy-handed policing and attacks on members of the press] and other precedents. Disproportionate use of force is still employed by police against journalists and demonstrators."President Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly accused foreign journalists of inciting unrest, in an apparent attempt to imply that Kurdish separatists, supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — who Ankara opposes — and members of the press are plotting against Turkey. On October 13 herailed against modern day "Lawrence of Arabias" looking to interfere in Turkish affairs while "disguised as journalists, religious men, writers, and terrorists."
'One of the guys in the police station said that he was sorry we were there and that the police officers on the streets might really have thought that we were spies.'
There have also been numerous arrests and Bihr said there are still around 20 media workers, mainly from Kobane itself, who have been detained in Turkey after crossing the border. Most are among the more than 200 held in Suruc, previously reported by VICE News.More are detained in Diyarbakir, Ozan Kilinc, the head of the city's Free Press Association, told VICE News. That would tally with the German photographers' accounts of seeing TV cameras stored in the police station where they were held and speaking with another detainee who said he was a journalist.It would not be surprising. Turkey was until recently the world's worst jailer of journalists and it currently ranks 154th out of 180 countries in the 2014 RSF press freedom index. Kurdish and left-wing journals critical of the government have suffered particularly rough treatment. Kurds in particular have suffered widespread arrest and detainment, often due to reporting on the oppression of the Kurdish identity or clashes between government forces and the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Kurdish journalists are often labeled as terrorists as a result.Asked about conditions for media in Turkey, Kilinc sounded gloomy. "Really, there is no freedom of press," he said with a wry smile, naming four colleagues and members of the association who had been detained during the week.
Turkey currently ranks 154th out of 180 countries in the 2014 RSF press freedom index.