French journalist awaiting deportation from Turkey begins hunger strike

French journalist Mathias Depardon.

French photojournalist Mathias Depardon, who was detained on May 8 after photographing the local scenery in Turkey’s southeastern Batman province and is waiting for his deportation from Turkey, has been on a hunger strike for three days, according to the Turkey branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Depardon, who was accused of disseminating the propaganda of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on social media, was released by a Turkish court last week. Following the court decision Depardon was taken to the Gaziantep Immigration Authority in the Oğuzeli district of Gaziantep province for deportation. However, the journalist has been waiting for his deportation in a cell for 15 days.

 Twitter message posted by the Turkey branch of RSF on Tuesday said: “French journalist Mathias Depardon who is being kept in an immigration center in Gaziantep for 15 days has been on a hunger strike for three days. This arbitrary situation must be ended.”

Depardon is an İstanbul-based documentary freelance photographer and frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Le Monde. Pressure on foreign journalists in Turkey has been mounting in recent years, with the government, pro-government journalists and government trolls on social media directly targeting them.


Meanwhile, one of four employees of the critical daily Sözcü for whom detention warrants were issued last week due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement was detained on Tuesday. Finance manager of the Sözcü daily Yonca Yücekaleli, accompanied by her lawyer, arrived at the prosecutor’s office at İstanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse on Tuesday to testify to a prosecutor where she was subsequently detained.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants last week for Sözcü’s license holder Burak Albay,online manager Mediha Olgun, Yücekaleli and İzmir reporter Gökmen Ulu.

They are accused of “membership in a terrorist organization and committing crimes on behalf of the organization” and “armed insurgency against the Turkish government.”

Ulu and Olgun were detained during a police operation, while Akbay was reported to be abroad.

The Turkish government has declared the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization although there is no court ruling to this effect. The government accuses the movement of masterminding the failed coup attempt on July 15, although the movement strongly denies any involvement in the failed putsch.

Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 258 journalists are now in jails as of May 21, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 236 are arrested pending trial, only 22 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the coup attempt. (SCF with May 23, 2017

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