RSF urges Turkey to free French freelancer held on terrorism charge

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of French freelance reporter Loup Bureau, who is the latest journalist to be jailed on a terrorism charge in Turkey. He has been held for the past eight days in the southeast of the country.

Bureau was arrested on 26 July near the Iraqi border, in an unstable region where he was preparing a report on the Kurdish issue and what life is like for the local population. After five days in police custody, he was charged and taken to a prison in the town of Şırnak on 1 August.

He is accused of terrorism-related activities, a charge often brought against journalists nowadays in Turkey. Last week, RSF attended the start of the trial of 17 employees of the independent newspaper Cumhuriyet who are facing up to 43 years in prison on terrorism charges.

“We call for Loup Bureau’s immediate release,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “We are extremely concerned about his imprisonment and the serious charges brought against him. He is just a journalist. We hope that the Turkish investigators will soon recognize this.”

Aged 27, Bureau is on the point of completing his journalism studies and is due to defend his thesis next month. He has already covered many of the world’s hotspots including Egypt, where he spend a year after the 2011 revolution, and Ukraine, where he was one of the authors of an award-winning report on the Maidan protests.

He has also covered Pakistan’s Tribal Areas and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. It seems that a report he did for TV5Monde in 2013 on Syrian Kurdish militias fighting Islamic State is being treated by Turkish judicial investigators as evidence against him.

Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. The situation of its media was already worrying but has become critical under the state of emergency proclaimed after the July 2016 coup attempt. 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 being detained. They include Deniz Yücel , a journalist with German and Turkish dual nationality.

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Updated on 03.08.2017