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Thank You All For Your Support

Though two VICE News journalists are being released from prison in Turkey, one of our colleagues is still detained. The episode, VICE founder Shane Smith says, is a reminder of the importance to stand up for free expression.

by Shane Smith
Sep 3 2015, 8:40pm

Today we got the good news that our VICE News colleagues, Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, are in the process of being released from the prison in Turkey where they were being held. You've probably heard, too, that Mohammed Ismael Rasool, the Turkey-based journalist who was working with us on this shoot, is still being detained. Relieved as we are that Jake and Philip have been freed, the fact that Mohammed remains locked up is cause for real concern. We are continuing to work with legal and government representatives to ensure his immediate and safe release.

This whole insane, frightening episode is a good reminder for all of us here at VICE that what we do is just a small part of a much larger global effort: an ongoing struggle to bring the world's most important stories to light, to ensure the safety and independence of the journalists who try to share those stories, and to protect the universal right to know what our governments are doing in our name.

It's nothing new that political actors would try to shut down this kind of reporting, but over the past few years it's become a widespread and disturbing trend. We should all be able to agree that a probing, independent press is a force for good, even when — actually, especially when — it's making a powerful person feel uncomfortable.

The irony is that the impulse to lock up journalists isn't just anti-democratic and dangerous; it's foolish too. The authorities behind it always see their credibility undercut — and the supposedly bad story always comes out anyway. This is especially true in the digital age. Technology is wreaking profound changes on how we understand our world. The questions these reporters were asking will be asked, and they will be answered, whether by VICE News, or the BBC, or Al Jazeera, or the New York Times — or by the subjects themselves.

In 2015, every citizen with a cell phone camera is a reporter. Every government crackdown is public. And every regime is vulnerable to exposure. It's a reality beyond anyone's control. And it isn't right that journalists like Mohammed, Philip, Jake, or the scores of others being held around the world should be made to pay for it.

Luckily for all of us, groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and Amnesty International do an incredible job of calling out injustice and supporting free expression every single day. Their immediate and vocal support for VICE, and the involvement of the professionals at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the US State Department, made a big difference in getting Jake and Philip released.

With their support, we're going to keep pushing to get Mohammed safely released. And we're going about our work today with renewed appreciation for the larger family of journalists, advocates, and diplomats who are standing up for free expression.

Tagged:
Europe
TURKEY
journalism
United Kingdom
free speech
Jake Hanrahan
free rasool
Mohammed Ismael Rasool
Mohammed Rasool
Philip Pendlebury
Opinion and Analysis