The 37 year old French photographer was set free today after being held for a month by the Turkish authorities
One month after French photographer Mathias Depardon was first detained by the Turkish police, he has finally been released.
It took pressure from the French government and Reporters Sans Frontiers, and a hunger strike by Depardon, but this evening he was on his way to Paris. And yesterday, after a month of only being allowed meetings with his lawyer, Emine Şeker, the 37-year-old was allowed to meet his mother, Daniele Van de Lanotte. “It was very emotional for both sides,” she told AFP. “I saw my son crying because he was so moved. I am relieved to see him, it is quite a gift.”
“The best news: Mathias Depardon is free one month after being arrested in Turkey,” Facebook-posted Jean-Francois Leroy, director of the Visa Pour l’Image – one of 21 organisations and media outlets to write to Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on 19 May demanding Depardon’s release. “He will be in Paris tonight…such a relief! Welcome back!”
The freelance photographer, who is based in Istanbul, was detained on 08 May while shooting on assignment for National Geographic in Hasankeyf in South East Turkey. On finding images of members of the banned PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) on his social media, the Turkish police then accused Depardon of creating “propaganda for a terrorist organisation” – though he was never officially charged.
He was taken to a detention centre operated by the National Department of Migration in the city of Gaziantep and, despite an order for his deportation issued on 11 May, remained there for a month. On 25 May, Turkish President Erdoğan promised he would “rapidly” look into Depardon’s case during a NATO summit.
And, while Depardon’s release is a cause for celebration, 237 journalists are still being held in Turkey, according to the Stockholm Center for Freedom – “most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 215 are arrested pending trial, only 22 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons.”
++This story was updated on 10 June at 07.08am to correct the information re Depardon’s charges – he was held without ever being officially charged++