Macron takes on Erdogan and demands French journalist ‘wrongfully’ imprisoned in Turkey
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to look into the case of jailed French photojournalist Mathias Depardon after his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, called for the reporter’s immediate release, a senior French official said.
The government official, who could not be publicly named, added that Mr Erdogan had promised to look into the situation “rapidly” after Mr Macron raised the issue with him ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels.
Mr Depardon, 36, was arrested in Batman province on May 8 while on assignment for National Geographic magazine and started a hunger strike earlier this week to protest his unlawful detention.
Mr Depardon’s mother told Europe 1 radio on Thursday that she feared for her son’s health
He doesn’t understand why he’s still in jail. He’s done nothing wrong
Danielle Van De Lanotte
The photojournalist, who has been living in Turkey for five years, should have been deported back to France on May 11, but has not yet been released.
Turkish authorities have accused Mr Depardon of working in Turkey without a press card – which they allegedly refused to renew – and of “spreading terrorist propaganda” by publishing images of members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Turkish-Kurdish rebel group designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey.
Danielle Van De Lanotte, Mr Depardon’s mother, told Europe 1 radio on Thursday that she feared for her son’s health.
Christophe Deloire also condemned Mr Depardon’s unlawful arrest
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Mrs Van De Lanotte said: “I’m worried about his health. His lawyer tells me he’s doing OK… but if he’s gone on hunger strike then he can’t be OK.
“He’s stopped eating because he’s at the end of his tether. He doesn’t understand why he’s still in jail. He’s done nothing wrong.
“Mr Erdogan has gained a reputation abroad for being a tough leader, and I’ve heard that a lot of people have been locked up for weeks without charge… Something needs to be done, and fast.”
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Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, also condemned Mr Depardon’s unlawful arrest in an op-ed published by the French daily Le Monde on Thursday.
Mr Deloire likened the reporter’s arrest to “hostage-taking” and accused the Turkish government of using “terrorist-like” tactics to silence the press.
“Holding foreign journalists without charge and blatantly ignoring international law clearly amounts to hostage-taking.”
The European Union has repeatedly expressed concern over Turkey’s sacking and jailing of thousands of police, teachers, journalists and civil servants believed to be followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish authorities have accused of orchestrating last July’s failed military coup.