Calls mount for release of French journalist in Turkey
PARIS - Agence France-PresseJournalist associations and thousands signing an online petition were pushing on Aug. 8 for the release of a freelance French journalist detained in Turkey since July 26, accused of having links to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Loup Bureau, 27, was detained on the Turkey-Iraq border and a Turkish security source said photographs of the journalist with YPG fighters were found on his laptop.
These date from a report he filed to French channel TV5 in 2013.
Ankara considers the YPG as a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Bureau is being held in the southeastern province of Şırnak, near the border with Iraq, but his lawyer Martin Pradel said on Aug. 8 that authorities were planning to transfer him to a prison in Van, in a decision he called “scandalous.”
The transfer will “have a disastrous effect,” Pradel said, noting that Bureau’s Turkish lawyer currently sees him every other day.
French journalist unions, European and international journalist associations, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), as well as TV5 are calling for Bureau’s immediate release along with his family and lawyers.
Some 3,500 people have joined a Facebook page set up by the journalist’s family with the headline “Loup Bureau, Journalist, not Terrorist”, while an online petition had garnered some 13,600 signatures by Aug. 8 afternoon.
So far the French foreign ministry has said only that Paris was following the situation with the “greatest attention” and was seeking consular access in Turkey.
Bureau, who is studying for a master’s degree in journalism, is scheduled to defend his thesis in September, according to RSF.
Speaking to the French daily Liberation, a friend described the native of France’s western Brittany region as “an adventurer who is not afraid of going to conflict zones.”
Bureau, who speaks Arabic, has reported on the Taliban in Pakistan, on Ukraine’s Maidan uprising in 2014 and the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
Pradel and another lawyer for Bureau, Rusen Aytac, voiced concern over the “extremely summary nature” of the arrest on suspicion of belonging to “an armed terrorist organisation” because of the 2013 reporting trip.
Bureau is the third French journalist to be detained in Turkey in the past year.
In June, Turkey deported French photojournalist Mathias Depardon after holding him for a month on charges of supporting terror groups.
Another French reporter, Olivier Bertrand, was expelled in Nov. 2016.
But Deniz Yücel, a correspondent of German daily Die Welt, has been held since February.
And Sweden just announced on Aug. 8 that it was working to help a Swedish-Turkish journalist detained in Spain after Ankara issued an international arrest warrant over alleged “terrorism.”