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Live Updates: Sputnik Turkey Editor-in-Chief, Three Staff Members Released from Custody

Late on Saturday, a group of angry individuals attempted to raid the homes of three Sputnik Turkey employees, chanting slogans and threatening violence against the journalists. The staffers cannot currently be contacted as they have been detained by Turkish security forces.

The chief editor of Sputnik Turkey Mahir Boztepe has been detained in the agency's Istanbul office, just hours after Turkish security forces apprehended Sputnik staff members in Ankara, Sputnik and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan wrote on her Telegram channel.

According to the bureau in Istanbul, the police took Boztepe to the General Directorate of Security.

Simonyan previously reported that Turkish police officers arrived at the Istanbul office and detained another Sputnik employee.

Meanwhile, The Turkish police in Ankara deny having Sputnik employees in custody, Simonyan revealed.

On Saturday night, groups of aggressive people, who were shouting nationalist slogans, insults and threats, tried to force their way into the homes of three Sputnik Turkey employees in Ankara. According to Sputnik Turkey, the attackers tried to break the doors and were shouting "Turkey for Turks," "Traitors," and "Russian spies." The attackers managed to get away before the police arrived. The incident did not result in any injures.

The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the attack as a blatant violation of the journalists' rights. According to the ministry, the journalists are currently being held by Turkish security forces. The situation is complicated by the fact that it is has not been possible to contact the detained journalists.

Sputnik has appealed to the United Nations, OSCE and UNESCO in connection with the attack.

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media Harlem Désir has strongly condemned the incident.

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17:44 GMT 01.03.2020
Released Sputnik Turkey Journalists Say Charges Related to Article They Did Not Write

Released Sputnik Turkey journalists called absurd the charges brought against them after the detention, in particular, those related to an article they even had not written.

"We were completely absurdly charged over an article that we did not write and have nothing to do with it. We were also told about some video on Youtube, which is allegedly linked with the support of terrorism, but I didn’t even see it and I don’t understand what it was about. After our explanations, the prosecutor did not find our fault," one of the released journalists said.

16:40 GMT 01.03.2020
Vyshinksy Says Journalist Arrests in Turkey Reminiscent of RIA Ukraine Ordeal

"This is painfully familiar because the same tactic was used to persecute the RIA Novosti Ukraine website. The story was similar: searches followed by [my] arrest and charges… I think that international organisations must be alerted to this immediately or else it may get too far," Vyshinsky was quoted as saying on the Russian presidential council for human rights.

Vyshinsky was freed by Ukraine last September after spending over a year in police custody for allowing the website to post stories that criticised the Ukrainian government. He was handed over to Russia during a simultaneous release of prisoners.

14:51 GMT 01.03.2020
Sputnik Turkey Editor-in-Chief Released from Custody

The wife of Sputnik Turkey’s editor in chief told Sputnik on Sunday that Mahir Boztepe had been freed from police custody in Istanbul.

“Mahir has been released,” she said.

14:46 GMT 01.03.2020
Detention of Sputnik Turkey Editor-in-Chief, Three Staff Members Flagrant Violation of Media Freedom - Turkish Journalist Union
14:41 GMT 01.03.2020
Police Officers Make Copies of Hard Drives from Computers at Sputnik Turkey Office in Istanbul
14:05 GMT 01.03.2020
Three Sputnik Turkey Journalists Detained in Ankara Released After Questioning

ANKARA (Sputnik) - Three journalists working for the Sputnik news agency in the Turkish capital were freed on Sunday after giving testimony.

Relatives of the detained Turkish citizens told Sputnik they had been allowed to walk free after testifying against people who tried to storm their homes late on Saturday.

The prosecutor's office in Ankara said in a statement that the journalists did not commit any offense and were free to go.

The trio called their families to say they were being released. They walked out of the Palace of Justice in Ankara minutes later and were met with a round of applause.

14:04 GMT 01.03.2020
Russian PM Lavrov Calls On His Counterpart Cavusoglu to Resolve Situation Around Sputnik Turkey Journalists As Soon As Possible

"The Russian side emphasized the necessity for a speedy resolution of the situation around journalists and employees of the Sputnik news agency in Ankara and ensuring their safety," the statement said.

13:54 GMT 01.03.2020
Retaliatory Measures Against Turkish Media Will Not Be Long in Coming - Diplomatic Source in Moscow
13:36 GMT 01.03.2020
Reporters Without Borders Watchdog Group Condemns Detention of Sputnik Turkey Employees
13:32 GMT 01.03.2020
Seven Turkish Journalist Organisations Condemn Detention of Sputnik Turkey Staff

"Yesterday evening, in Ankara, there was an attempt to assault homes of three Sputnik Turkey journalists. People who gathered before their homes threatened and insulted our colleagues. The journalists who went to the police to complain about the attempted assault were detained ... As professional organisations, we once again urge the authorities to refrain from making journalists their targets. The detained journalists must be released," the Journalists Union of Turkey together with six other organisations said in a joint statement.

13:14 GMT 01.03.2020
Detained Sputnik Turkey Journalists Brought to Palace of Justice in Ankara to Testify
13:13 GMT 01.03.2020
Turkish Police Searching Sputnik Office in Istanbul Without Disclosing Reasons
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