06/12/2013 01:20 EDT | Updated 08/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Two CBC reporters freed after being detained in Turkey

OTTAWA - Two CBC journalists covering violent anti-government protests in Turkey were detained by police in Istanbul for several hours Wednesday before being released after Ottawa demanded they be freed.

The CBC said Wednesday evening Sasa Petricic and Derek Stoffel were "unharmed" and "in good condition" after their ordeal, which began just before noon.

The pair had been tweeting photos and observations from around Turkey's largest city when the flow of information ended with a single tweet from Petricic's account.

"Arrested," he tweeted.

News of their release Wednesday evening also spread on Twitter, and was quickly confirmed by messages from both reporters' tweets.

"My exclusive 'tour' of the Turkish justice system is over! Thanks for all the kind comments! And very big thanks to all at @CBCNews," Stoffel wrote.

The two journalists each thanked Foreign Affairs officials for helping speed up the their release.

"#Canada diplomats in #Turkey huge help in getting @DerekStoffelCBC & myself released so quickly. A big thank you!," Petricic said after announcing their freedom with a simple "We're out!"

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had tweeted earlier that he had contacted the Turkish ambassador and expressed concern about the incident.

He thanked the ambassador, the Turkish government and consular officials in another tweet on learning the matter had been resolved.

"Pleased to hear @CBCNews journalists have been released in #Istanbul," he added.

Diane Ablonczy, minister of state for consular affairs, had also said the government was monitoring the situation closely.

"The Turkish ambassador has assured us that the two journalists are safe and well treated and we will continue to liaise at the highest levels until this matter is resolved," she said in the House of Commons.

The Commons also unanimously approved a motion brought by Liberal MP Bob Rae which condemned the arrest and detention of the two reporters and called on Turkish authorities "to release them immediately."

The reporters appeared to have re-gained access to their cellphones about an hour after their arrests were confirmed and both tweeted about being detained.

"Sasa and I are OK. In police custody but OK. Thanks for kind words. Will lose mobile phones very quickly so good night," Stoffel said on Twitter.

"All good so far. Going through the Byzantine (literally) process! Thanks everyone," Petricic added.

He returned to Twitter after his release to describe some of his experience in custody.

"Several hrs in #Turkey cell w 8 young guys arrested for very frivolous things@ #Taksim. 2 while bringing box food to protesters #OccupyGezi," he tweeted.

Turkey has experienced nearly two weeks of protests that began in Istanbul after a violent police crackdown on a peaceful sit-in by activists objecting to a development project.

The protests have since spread to dozens of other cities and are shaping up as the biggest test yet in the 10-year rule of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic-rooted government.

The protesters say the prime minister is becoming increasingly authoritarian and is trying to force his deep religious views on all Turks. Erdogan insists the protests are being organized by extremists and terrorists and must end immediately.

Activists say 5,000 people have been injured or seriously affected by the tear gas and four people have died in the protests.

On Wednesday, thousands of Turkish lawyers took to the streets, sounding off on the alleged rough treatment of their colleagues by police.

Later in the day, the governing party said it was open to holding a referendum over the Istanbul development plan that has had a central role in the mass protests.

The announcement came after talks between Erdogan and a group of activists. It was the first big gesture by his government to end the civil unrest.

A spokesman for the ruling party also said, however, that the government would not allow an ongoing sit-in at a park which has been at the centre of the protests to continue "until doomsday."