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Turkey detains young French journalist near Iraqi border

© Ozan Kose, AFP (illustration) | Turkey was ranked 155 out of 180 countries around the world for press freedom in 2017, according to NGO Reporters Without Borders.

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-08-03

France is seeking consular protection for a young Frenchman being detained on the Turkish border with Iraq, a foreign ministry official said on Thursday, as Reporters Without Borders expressed concern over his plight.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported the detention of a man identified as Loup Jean René Bureau on Wednesday, saying he had been found to have photographs and interviews with Kurdish militia fighters among his possessions.

It said he was detained last week after entering Turkey at the Habur crossing with Iraq. The crossing is less than 20 km (just over 10 miles) from northeastern Syria, where Kurdish YPG militia fighters control territory.

“The French Embassy in Ankara is in contact with the authorities (in Turkey) in a bid to establish consular protection as quickly as possible,” the official said in an email to Reuters.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Paris-based international NGO that defends press freedom, told FRANCE 24 that it has not had contact with Bureau, although it had spoken to the journalist’s father.

“Loup Bureau’s situation is more serious than that of Mathias Depardon and Olivier Bertrand [two French journalists detained in Turkey in recent months and ultimately released] because he is not in a detention centre. He is in a prison in southeast Turkey,” Johann Bihr, who heads RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia office, told FRANCE 24’s Julia Dumont. “The accusation is very serious. The inquiry is still in progress. We will try to prove that he was only doing his job,” Bihr says.

Bureau appeared in court in the provincial capital Sirnak on Tuesday and was remanded in custody on suspicion of assisting a terrorist organisation, Anadolu said, citing a security official.

He was also found to have a video entitled “List of weapon distribution”, Anadolu said. A Twitter account in the name of Loup Bureau identified him as a journalism student who was learning Arabic.

Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the PKK, which has fought a three-decade insurgency in southeast Turkey and is designated a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the United States and European Union.

“Unfortunately, it is evident that foreign journalists are no longer spared in Turkey,” says Bihr, who notes that Turkey ranks 155th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’s press freedom index. “It is the largest prison in the world for journalists with more than 100 journalists imprisoned. That is the context in which this arrest has taken place.”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-08-03

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