After the ceremony, RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire and Depardon’s mother, Danièle Van de Lanotte, left for Turkey, where she hopes to visit him tomorrow in a detention centre in Gaziantep, a city near the Syrian border, together with the French consul. This will be the first time she has seen him since his arrest.
RSF and the support committee today also launched an online petition for Depardon’s release.
Deloire, Van de Lanotte and the support committee’s spokesman, Laurent Joffrin, all spoke during today’s ceremony, appealing for Depardon’s immediate release. Fourth district mayor Christophe Girard and Patrick Klugman, the Paris mayor’s deputy for international relations, also voiced solidarity with Depardon and called for the biggest possible campaign for his release.
“Depardon’s only crime was practising journalism, so his detention is illegal and arbitrary,” Deloire said during the ceremony outside the town hall. “This French journalist’s rights have been completely violated. An expulsion order was issued so he should have been put on a plane back to France within 48 hours but this has yet to take place.”
Based in Turkey for the past five years, Depardon was arrested while preparing a report for National Geographic magazine in the southeast of the country on 8 May. Despite the 11 May expulsion order and a promise from President Erdogan to “quickly examine his situation,” he is still in the Gaziantep detention centre.
Ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, Turkey is currently undergoing an unprecedented crackdown on its media, while dozens of foreign journalists have been expelled in the past two years.