Italian journalist detained in Turkey goes on hunger strike

Gabriele Del Grande.

Gabriele Del Grande, an Italian journalist detained by Turkish authorities since 10 April, declared on Tuesday he will go on hunger strike.

“I will go on hunger strike this evening and I invite everybody to mobilise and demand that my rights are respected,” Del Grande said by telephone to his friends. The Italian national, who has written many books and directed documentaries on migration around the Mediterranean, has not been able to make any phone calls for nine days.

Del Grande’s phone call was published on the Facebook page of his documentary film Io sto con la sposa (I stand with the bride): “My papers are in order but I haven’t been allowed to name a lawyer and I haven’t been informed on how long my detention will last. The reason for my arrest is connected to my work. I have been questioned about it. I was able to make this phone call only after days of protest,” he said.

Del Grande, editor of the blog Fortress Europe, said from the detention centre where he is being held that his phone and other belongings had been seized by Turkish police after his arrest in Hatay province in Southern Turkey bordering Syria.

Despite the Italian national being detained without any formal charges, Italian media has only briefly engaged in the case of Del Grande. He was able to call his partner and friends on Tuesday while he was surrounded by police.

“He was in Turkey in order to write a book on the war in Syria after having crowdfunded money online. This is a matter of press freedom,” Giuseppe Acconcia, an Italian journalist and researcher on the Middle East, said to Kom News.