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Head of Sputnik Turkey freed after brief detention, Russian agency’s 3 journalists released after questioning

Head of Sputnik Turkey freed after brief detention, Russian agency’s 3 journalists released after questioning
The head of the Turkish branch of Sputnik was released after being briefly detained amid searches at the Istanbul office of the Russian news agency. Three employees of the outlet were also freed after questioning by Ankara police.

The released journalists were met with applause from a group of supporters who had gathered outside the Hall of Justice.

According to the official report on their interrogation, Turkish prosecutors did not find any wrongdoing on the journalists’ part.

The staffers were assaulted by Turkish nationalists on Saturday and went missing after turning to Ankara police for help. They had been presumed detained, yet the law enforcement in Turkey’s capital denied any knowledge of their whereabouts, according to RT and Sputnik editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan.

Shortly after their release, Mahir Boztepe, the head of Sputnik’s Turkish branch, was freed from police custody as well. The journalist was briefly detained amid searches of Sputnik’s Istanbul office.

Also on rt.com Sputnik Turkey under attack: Russian agency’s lead editor held by police, 3 staffers questioned by after assault by nationalists

The Sputnik employees were released shortly after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu. The top diplomat urged Ankara to “swiftly resolve” the situation with the journalists and called upon the authorities to ensure their safety.

The harassment of the Sputnik journalists has been condemned by seven Turkish journalist associations, as well as by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Harlem Desir, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, urged Ankara to “ensure the safety of foreign correspondents,” and raised concerns over reports linking the detention to a Sputnik article.

Also on rt.com OSCE condemns harassment of Russian agency journalists in Turkey amid reported detention over ‘professional activity’

Some Turkish media reports suggested that the assault on Sputnik might have been linked to its article on Turkey’s Hatay province, which was long disputed by Syria.

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