French journalist detained in SE Turkey on terror propaganda charges

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Mathias Depardon

French photojournalist Mathias Depardon was detained on Monday after photographing the local scenery in Turkey’s southeastern Batman province.

Erol Önderoğlu, the Turkey representative of Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders), announced from Twitter on Tuesday that Depardon had been transferred to the Gaziantep Immigration Authority.

The Reporters Without Borders – Eastern Europe & Central Asia official Twitter account also said Depardon was detained by Turkish authorities on charges of disseminating the propaganda of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Photoreporter detained in SE , baselessly accused of “PKK propaganda”. Cd be deported though TK-based. !” the tweet said.

He was detained in the historic town of Hasankeyf after taking pictures of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. His cameras were also seized, Önderoğlu tweeted.

Depardon is an İstanbul-based documentary freelance photographer and frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Le Monde.

On April 9, Gabriele del Grande, an Italian journalist working for the ANSA news agency, was detained during a security check in the southern province of Hatay. He was released by a Turkish court on April 25.

Del Grande was interviewing Syrian refugees for a book he is writing about the war and the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Last November another French journalist, Olivier Bertrand, was detained in the southeastern province of Gaziantep and deported three days later following the diplomatic efforts exerted by Paris.

In the last days of 2016, Wall Street Journal correspondent in İstanbul Don Nissenbaum was held incommunicado for over two days for tweeting about an alleged soldier burning by ISIL.

In January The New York Times reported that Turkey denied entry to one of its veteran reporters, Rod Nordland, at İstanbul Atatürk Airport, with no reason offered by officials as to why he was not allowed to enter the country.

Deniz Yücel, who works for the German Die Welt newspaper and has been kept in pre-trial detention in Turkey since Feb. 27 as part of an investigation for publishing stories on the leaked emails of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, was arrested by a court on Feb. 27.

In April, the Turkish government refused to renew the press accreditation of German Stern magazine reporter Raphael Geiger due to alleged remarks insulting Erdoğan.

Pressure on foreign journalists in Turkey has been mounting in recent years, with the government, pro-government journalists and government trolls on social media directly targeting them.

Journalists Frank Nordhausen and Nick Ashdown were targeted by pro-government trolls and media for their tweets reporting on twin bomb attacks in İstanbul immediately after they occurred on Dec. 10.

“Shameless, immoral, treason,” said President Erdoğan of an article by New York Times reporter Ceylan Yeginsu about the recruitment of Turkish citizens by ISIL.

After CNN’s Ivan Watson was detained during a live broadcast from the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul in 2013, Erdoğan accused him of “working like a spy.”

Erdoğan also went after the Economist’s Turkey correspondent, Amberin Zaman, for her remarks on a TV show: “Shameless militant disguised under the name of a journalist.”

Selin Girit, a host on the BBC’s Turkish service, was another journalist targeted by Erdoğan, who said, “Part of a conspiracy against her own country.”

Two Swedish journalists were also temporarily detained by police in November in the Kurdish southeastern province of Diyarkabır.

Lindsey Snell, an American freelance journalist detained by Turkish security forces on Aug. 7 as she crossed into Turkey from Syria and accused of having illegally entered a restricted military zone, was released in October after two months’ detention in Turkey.

Finnish journalist and writer Taina Niemela was deported from Turkey in April on charges that she had been involved in “spying activities.”

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