Turkey: Joint call for French photographer’s immediate release

A joint call for French freelance photographer Mathias Depardon’s release by the Turkish authorities had been made by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), two other press freedom groups and 19 news organizations for which he has worked.

Read the letter here or below

Depardon, 37, has been detained arbitrarily for the past eleven days in Turkey.

RSF and the 21 organizations wrote today to Turkish interior minister Süleyman Soylu requesting Depardon’s immediate release.

Based in Turkey for the past five years, Depardon was arrested in the southeast of the country on 8 May while doing a report for National Geographic magazine. An order for his expulsion was issued on 11 May but he is still being held in Gaziantep, a city near the Syrian border.

“The authorities had no reason to arrest Mathias Depardon and his continued detention is both incomprehensible and unacceptable, especially as he was supposed to have been expelled a week ago,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We call on the Turkish authorities to end this ordeal at once.”

Depardon’s arrest is not isolated. Dozens of foreign journalist have been expelled from Turkey since fighting between the Turkish army and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) resumed in southeastern Turkey in July 2015.

Olivier Bertrand, a French journalist with the Les Jours website, was deported in November 2016 after being arrested while reporting in Gaziantep province. Italian journalist Gabriele Del Grande was arrested in April 2017 in Antakya, near the Syrian border, and was deported after being held for three weeks.

Turkey is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

Mr Süleyman Soylu

Minister of Interior

Çamlıca Mahallesi 122. Sokak No:4

Yenimahalle, Ankara


Cc : Directorate for Migration Issues, Foreigners department

19 May 2017

Dear Sir,

The undersigned press freedom and media organisations call on you to secure the immediate and unconditional release of French photojournalist Mathias Depardon, who has been detained for the past 10 days in southeastern Turkey.

Depardon was arrested on 8 May in Hasankeyf, in Batman province, while doing a report on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for National Geographic magazine. The following day, he was transferred to a detention centre operated by the Directorate for Migration Issues in Gaziantep, where he has remained ever since. On 11 May, ie. one week ago, the Directorate ordered to deport him. But the journalist has remained in detention ever since.

This is a very difficult situation for Depardon and his family to experience. The only communication channel he has with the outside world is his lawyer. The journalist is left without explanation about his continuing detention. This information vacuum makes us increasingly anxious, and we respectfully call on you to authorize French diplomats to visit him.

Aged 37, Depardon has been based in Turkey for the past five years. He is in the process of renewing his press card. The undersigned media organisations have all worked with him over the past few years and they all describe him as a highly professional and law-abiding journalist.

As confirmed by National Geographic, Depardon was in Hasankeyf on a professional assignment. We understand the legitimate security concerns in this area and we fully respect the law enforcement agencies’ duty to protect Turkish citizens. But there is no ground to detain or deport Depardon. He should be allowed to continue his work in Turkey.

We thank you in advance for the attention you give to our request.


  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • Association des Journalistes Professionnels (AJP, Belgique)
  • Elle
  • L'Express
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Le Figaro
  • L’Humanité
  • Internazionale
  • Libération
  • Mediapart
  • Le Monde
  • National Geographic
  • L'Obs
  • Le Parisien
  • Paris Match
  • Polka
  • Der Spiegel
  • Society
  • The Sunday Times Magazine
  • Télérama
  • Visa pour l'Image
  • VSD
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Updated on 19.05.2017