VICE Media Blacks Out Network Worldwide to Call for Release of Detained Journalist

For two hours on Wednesday, Vice Media blacked out all of its digital and social media channels worldwide to call for the prison release of British journalist Mohammed Rasool.

Wednesday marked the 56th day of Rasool’s detainment. He was arrested, along with two other individuals working for Vice News, in August for failing to provide proper government accreditation to officials while reporting in Turkey.

Users attempting to access any of Vice’s digital channels, which add up to almost 100 pages, between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. ET landed on a holding website that encouraged them to take action. A button on the page then redirected visitors to an online petition in support of Rasool’s release. By 1 p.m. on Wednesday, more than 9,200 people had signed the call to action.

“The very existence of democracy relies on a free and thriving fourth estate. Please help us focus attention on Rasool’s case, by sharing the hashtag on social media of #FreeRasool, and keeping pressure on the Turkish authorities to free him immediately,” Shane Smith, Vice founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Rasool is an experienced journalist and translator who has worked extensively across the Middle East with Vice, the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. He was detained on charges of terrorism with fellow British journalist Jake Hanrahan and Turkish translator Philip Pendlebury in the Baglar district of Diyarbakir province on August 27. They had been reporting on rising tensions between Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants and local officials.

Hanrahan and Pendlebury were released from prison on September 3. But Rasool remains jailed.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also has called on Turkish authorities to release Rasool and allow him to continue working in the region.

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