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French journalist ends hunger strike after meeting with embassy official

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French photojournalist Mathias Depardon, who was detained on May 8 after photographing the local scenery in Turkey’s southeastern Batman province and went on a hunger strike on May 21 while waiting for his deportation from Turkey, ended his protest on May 27 after meeting with a French Embassy official, according to a statement from Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire announced the news from his Twitter account on Saturday, writing: “Detained in Turkey, the French photographer stopped his hunger strike after he learned that a visit by a diplomat would be allowed.”

Depardon, who was accused of disseminating the propaganda of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on social media, was released by a Turkish court earlier in May.

Following the court decision Depardon was taken to the Gaziantep Immigration Authority in the Oğuzeli district of Gaziantep province for deportation. However, the journalist has been waiting for his deportation there for more than 20 days.

According to Deloire, diplomat Christophe Hemmings from the French Embassy in Ankara paid an hour-long visit to Depardon.

Deloire said the French journalist is reportedly well taken care of and that his case will be handled at the highest level.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels on May 25, requested an assessment of the situation of the French journalist in Turkey.

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

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.

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