Vice Media carried out a two-hour blackout on its websites yesterday to call attention to an Iraqi Kurdish journalist who has been held in Turkish jails without charges since being arrested while working for the news organisation.
Mohammed Rasool has been in prison for nearly eight weeks. He was detained while serving as a fixer for two British journalists for Vice News covering the conflict in Turkey's Kurdish south-east.
Vice News's parent group was directing all of its digital sites to a petition addressed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday that calls for Rasool's release.
Vice Media organised the petition with the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists. CPJ executive director Joel Simon called Rasool's case "a tremendous injustice".
"It is also a reminder of the essential role of media support staff, the fixers, stringers, translators and drivers who risk their lives to bring us the news," he said.
Rasool, who marked his 25th birthday on Tuesday, was arrested on 27 August along with Vice's Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury. The three journalists had travelled to towns along Turkey's border with Iraq, the centre of renewed violence between Kurdish militants and government forces.
Hanrahan and Pendlebury were released 11 days later, but Rasool has remained in a high-security jail. Turkish authorities have neither indicted him nor adequately explained why they are holding him. His case is being conducted under a secrecy order, so his lawyers do not have access to the files against him, they say. Some colleagues and friends have seen him, but the interactions have been limited.
Vice, which calls itself a youth media company, says it is setting the blackout at peak viewing time so that millions will see the petition and video on Rasool. Vice says its sites get 100 million unique visitors per month.