Vice journalists accused of terrorism released, officials say

Vice journalists accused of terrorism released, officials say
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Two Vice News journalists accused in Turkey of “engaging in terrorist activity” over the use of encryption software reportedly were released on Thursday. A third person, however, remains jailed.  

The three journalists were arrested last week in Diyarbakir while covering clashes between Kurdish youths and security forces. Turkish officials told The Associated Press that a correspondent and a cameraman, both British, have been released. 

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Their fixer, who is Iraqi but based in Turkey, remains in prison in Adana, in southern Turkey. 

"The main issue seems to be that the [journalists'] fixer uses a complex encryption system on his personal computer that a lot of ISIL militants also utilize for strategic communications,” a Turkish official told Al Jazeera, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

The software in question is probably a common form of email encryption used by many — not just ISIS, Ars Technica says. 

“There are no details as to what that ‘complex encryption system’ might be, but it seems likely that it is nothing more than the PGP email encryption software, or perhaps the The Onion Router (TOR) system, both of which are very widely used, and not just by ISIL,” policy editor Glyn Moody writes. 

Vice News has stridently rejected the government’s accusations, calling the arrests an attempt to silence needed reporting. 

Turkey is not alone in its suspicions of encryption, one of the most effective and common ways of achieving data security. U.S. lawmakers continue to debate whether commonly encrypted devices — such as iPhones — should have a “back door” built in for law enforcement. 

Law enforcement officials, including FBI Director James Comey, have warned of the public danger of “going dark,” or allowing a medium of communication that cops can’t monitor for criminals to exploit. 

Privacy hawks, however, argue that “leaving a key under the doormat” is not only an infringement on individual privacy, it introduces inherent weaknesses and poses much graver security risks. 

Earlier this year, President Obama backed British Prime Minister David Cameron’s call for tech companies to create holes in their technology to allow the government to track social media communications.