As heads of state and government for the 20 largest economies in the world convene for the G20 summit in Turkey this weekend, human rights groups are calling on the Turkish government to release Mohammed Rasool, a VICE News journalist who's been detained there for 80 days on terrorism charges.
"Turkey doesn't want to be known as a country where journalists are accused of being terrorists," Amnesty International's UK Director Kate Allen, said. "And if they want to rehabilitate their damaged international reputation they should start by freeing Mohammed Rasool immediately."
Rasool, a 25 year-old graduate student at Fatih University in Istanbul, is also an accomplished journalist who has worked with the Associated Press and Al Jazeera as well as VICE News.
In late August, Rasool was helping fellow VICE News journalists Phil Pendlebury and Jake Hanrahan report on clashes between the PKK Youth Wing and Turkish forces in Cizre and Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey.
All three reporters were apprehended by Turkish authorities on on August 27. While Hanrahan and Pendlebury were released after 11 days, Rasool is still being detained in a maximum-security anti-terror prison. He has yet to be tried.
In just one month, a petition led by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has gathered more than 80,000 signatures calling for his release. As well as pressing for Rasool's release, the CPJ also demands that Turkey release other reporters who are also in jail.
VICE is also calling for G20 leaders to raise the issue of press freedom directly with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the summit.
"As world leaders gather in Antalya this weekend for the G20 summit, they must not miss their chance to stand up for the dozens of journalists who are prosecuted, obstructed, fired, harassed, beaten, or imprisoned in the country in retaliation for their work." CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said.
VICE News Editor-In-Chief Jason Mojica also called on Turkey to drop the terrorism charges against Rasool. "Rasool has been held in a Turkish prison for doing nothing more than his job as a journalist — trying to better help us understand the world in which we live," he said. "We urge the Turkish government to redeem itself and dismiss Rasool's case on the grounds that it has no basis in fact. The sooner the Turkish government returns to treating journalists as the important part of an open society that they are, the sooner Turkey will return to a position of regard on the world stage."