Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely relieved by French freelance journalist Loup Bureau’s announced release in Turkey today (15 September), after being held for 51 days. He is about to be deported back to France.
“Loup Bureau’s release follows more than 50 days of denial of justice and arbitrary detention,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “This young French reporter was turned into a Turkish government hostage and was used to intimidate journalists who would like to cover developments in Turkey. We continue to be fully engaged in seeking the release of all other journalists still held in Turkey just for doing their job.”
Bureau was arrested in southeastern Turkey on 26 July and was placed in provisional detention in Şırnak prison on 1 August on a charge of “membership of a terrorist organization.”
The charge was based on his journalistic work in this unstable region and in particular on a TV report he made in Syrian Kurdistan in 2013 about Kurdish militias fighting Islamic State.
Bureau’s release follows an official visit to Turkey by French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was contacted by RSF on the eve of his departure and was urged to raise Bureau’s case. RSF pays tribute to all the efforts undertaken by French diplomats and to the work of Bureau’s lawyers.
Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. The already worrying media situation has become critical under the state of emergency proclaimed after a coup attempt in July 2016. Around 150 media outlets have been closed, mass trials are being held and more than 100 journalists are currently in prison – a world record.
Foreign journalists are no longer spared. Several dozen have been expelled in the past two years and some are still being held. They include Deniz Yücel , a journalist with German and Turkish dual nationality.