Detained Photojournalist Starts Hunger Strike in Turkish Prison

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French photographer Mathias Depardon, who has been detained in Turkey since May 8, has began a hunger strike.

Depardon was on assignment for National Geographic when he was arrested in the southeast of the country. “Although an order for his deportation was issued on 11 May, he is still being held at a detention centre in Gaziantep, a city near the Syrian border,” said Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement. The organization has called for his immediate release.

The 37-year-old photographer, based in Istanbul, was working on a story about the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Hasankeyf, in the country’s Batman province. Local police said he was arrested on suspicion of “propaganda for a terrorist organization,” a reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization banned in Turkey. These charges have since been dropped but he remains in custody.

Depardon began his a hunger strike on May 21. “The ordeal to which Mathias Depardon is being subjected is unacceptable and has lasted for too long,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “The Turkish authorities, who are responsible for his safety, must end this grotesque situation. We again urge the French government to intervene firmly to protect this photographer and obtain his release.”

More than a dozen media organizations – including Le Monde, Libération, National Geographic and Der Spiegel – have also called for his release.

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