Mathias Depardon, an Istanbul-based French photojournalist who was arrested on May 8 when filming in the southeastern province of Batman, has gone on hunger strike, his lawyer said.
Depardon was arrested in Hasankeyf, a district in Batman, while doing a report for National Geographic magazine. He was transferred on May 9 to a repatriation center operated by the Directorate for Migration Affairs in Gaziantep, where he has remained ever since. On May 11, authorities issued an order for his deportation but he has remained in detention since then.
Depardon’s lawyer, Emine Şeker, told Punto24 that Depardon has been on hunger strike since Sunday, May 20.
Depardon was reportedly accused of “terror propaganda” based on some photos he shared on his social media accounts. But he was released by a court following his arrest by the police and is currently held on the basis of an “administrative detention” order. A formal objection to the administrative detention order has been rejected, Şeker also said, while authorities are yet to respond to a separate appeal against the deportation order.
On May 19, three press freedom groups and 19 news organizations for which Depardon has worked issued a joint call for Depardon’s release. The letter, addressing Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, said Depardon was in Hasankeyf on a professional assignment, as confirmed by National Geographic.
A dam project in Hasankeyf threatens the ruins of an ancient city. Most of the area will likely be submerged under water, which will cause the destruction of ancient dwellings in the area. It is not unusual for photographers and documentarists to visit the area.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş also submitted a parliamentary query demanding a response from Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on the situation of the journalist.