When Can VICE Journalist Mohammed Rasool Leave Turkey? He's Out Of Prison, But Not Out Of The Woods
On Tuesday, the journalistic community got some very welcome news, after months of waiting. VICE journalist Mohammed Rasool has finally been released from prison in Turkey, where he'd been held for four months on government allegations of "working on behalf of a terrorist organization," according to the news outlet. This means all three VICE journalists arrested in Turkey last August (Rasool, along with Philip Pendlebury and Jake Hanrahan) are now out of jail. But not everything's resolved yet ― when can Mohammed Rasool actually leave Turkey?
Rasool was arrested alongside Pendlebury and Hanrahan on Aug. 27, and ultimately spent 131 days in prison. He didn't have his colleagues there with him the entire time, however ― while the Britons were cut loose after just 11 days, the Iraqi-born Rasool was left to languish. The trio were reportedly filming altercations between government police and members of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (KPP) when they were arrested.
The clear implication was that they were hauled in for giving exposure to the KPP's anti-government rebellion, a conflict more than three decades old which has been raging with renewed force since peace talks collapsed last July. The incident sparked international attention, condemnation, and a lot of outcry from journalistic circles. Of particular note is Turkey's dismal record as far as press suppression goes, as they've been a global leader in locking up journalists in recent years.
Now, however, even though Rasool has been freed, he's still living under an onerous burden imposed by the Turkish state: He can't leave the country. According to VICE's account of his imprisonment and release, he'll have to submit to regular check-ins with the authorities, stopping by his local police station twice per week. Needless to say, this paints a picture that's a far cry from true freedom. Here's how they described it:
A document issued by a court in Diyarbakir stated that no bail payment was made, that Rasool was detained "as a protective measure," and he cannot leave the country. He must also report twice a week to a police station near where he lives.
Unfortunately, it's not yet clear when Rasool will regain true freedom of movement and travel, and that's something to keep an eye on. Being ordered not to leave a country that's just imprisoned you, after all, in some sense turns the whole country into a place of detainment. VICE also notes that Rasool's family has issued a statement requesting a measure of respect for his privacy right now, which makes perfect sense ― losing months of your life to a seemingly baseless, speech-suppressive arrest is a horrible thought, to say nothing of Turkey's notoriously poor prison conditions.