French Photojournalist Arrives Home after Detention in Turkey

A French photographer arrived in Paris Friday night after being held in custody in Turkey for the past month.

Mathias Depardon was accused of violating Turkish media law and held in police custody since May 8. He was finally deported on Friday after intense diplomatic negotiations involving the efforts of newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron and President Reccip Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Depardon was detained after failing to present the proper media credentials while working on a photo shoot for National Geographic. He had been a resident of Turkey for the past five years when his news credentials expired. He made an application to renew his credentials but started working before the Turkish authorities approved his press accreditation, his lawyer said.

Depardon’s lawyer immediately requested a judge to issue a deportation order so he would not remain in the detention center. A deportation order was issued. However, Depardon remained in custody for weeks without any explanation from the Turkish police.

In Brussels, at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit on May 25, French President Macron mentioned the lengthy detention of Depardon to Turkish President Erdogan. As a result, French diplomats in Turkey were allowed to visit Depardon while in custody.
There was no statement by Turkish officials as to why Depardon was finally deported. Depardon flew directly from Istanbul to Paris on a Turkish Airlines flight.

“I am very happy to announce the return to France tonight of our countryman, the photojournalist @mathiasdepardon,” posted Macron on Twitter.

Turkish media laws have become more restrictive since an attempted coup almost overturned the Erdogan-led government on July 15, 2016. Erdogan re-took control of the country and began a purge of military, business, and government employees suspected of siding with the coup. Anti-government media outlets were also shut down throughout Turkey. There are more than 160 journalists still in prison in Turkey, according to P-24, a reporter’s rights advocacy group based in Turkey.

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