Detained French photographer starts hunger strike

French photographer Mathias Depardon, detained in southeastern Turkey on 8 May and who has been kept in custody since then has started a hunger strike, Reporters Without Borders announced on Tuesday.

Istanbul-based National Geographic photographer Mathias Depardon was detained while taking pictures in the new settlement area of Hasankeyf, Batman province on 8 May and was accused by the Turkish judiciary with engaging in PKK propaganda over social media.

An order for Depardon’s deportation was issued on 11 May and the 37 year old photographer was transferred to a detention centre for immigrants in Gaziantep province where he has been held in isolation for two weeks now.

Reporters Without Borders, two other organisations defending freedom of the press and 19 media organs issued a joint statement calling for the immediate release for Depardon on 19 May.

“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.”

“We are extremely worried for Mathias Depardon who is on hunger strike for three days” said Reporters Without Borders in a new statement issued on 23 May, after learning from Depardon’s lawyer Emine Seker that the photographer started a hunger strike.

“The unacceptable calvary of Mathias Depardon has lasted too long! The Turkish authorities are responsible for his security, they must immediately put an end to this Kafkaesque situation,” says Johann Bihr, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia office of RSF. “We call on the new French government to intervene firmly to protect the photographer and ensure his release. ”

Turkey ranks 155th out of 180 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, set by RSF.