French journalist released from Turkish prison is relieved to be back in Paris | News | DW | 17.09.2017
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French journalist released from Turkish prison is relieved to be back in Paris

The journalist's release is welcome news but there are still at least 160 Turkish journalists who remain behind bars. Turkey's free press record is abysmal, lagging behind authoritarian regimes in Belarus and the Congo.

Frankreich Paris - Loup Bureau nach 50 Tagen aus türkischer Haft entlassen (Getty Images/AFP/G. v. d. Hasselt)

Loup Bureau is greeted by his father, Loic, and others, at Charles de Gaulle airport on Sunday

A young French journalist is "very relieved" to be back in Paris after spending 50 days in a Turkish prison on terrorism charges.

Loup Bureau's arrest raised alarm in Europe over deteriorating press freedoms in Turkey. The 27-year-old journalist was caught up in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's far-reaching crackdown after last year's failed coup attempt.

Bureau, who worked for the television channels TV5 and Arte and the website Slate, was taken into custody at the Turkish-Iraqi border on July 26.

Police found he had photos of himself with members of the People's Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurd militia.

Ankara considers the YPG to be a Syrian affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK seeks an independent Kurdistan and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state for more than 30 years.

But the United States considers the YPG to be the most effective fighting force in Syria and Iraq, as it tries to wipe out violent jihadists, most notably the Islamic State (IS) militants.

Bureau was met at Charles de Gaulle airport by family and friends, along with French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen as he landed on a flight from Istanbul.

Loup Bureau strikes Rodin's The thinker pose for his twitter page

Loup Bureau's Twitter page

Macron appealed to Erdogan

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had appealed to Erdogan for Bureau's release, spoke to the journalist by telephone and told him to get some rest.

"I was not ill-treated physically but there were threats and intimidations," Bureau told reporters at the airport.

"From the moment when Mr. Macron announced he was demanding my release, there were changes - the guards started to understand that I wasn't a terrorist, that the things I had been accused of were not really true."

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey since the failed coup in July 2016. The authorities have targeted an array of opponents as well as individuals accused of links to the alleged putschists.

Several European journalists have been snared in the crackdown, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaking out against the arrests in a country that officially aspires to join the European Union.

"Journalists belong in newsrooms not in prisons," he said this week. "I appeal to the powers that be in Turkey, let our journalists go."

The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hailed Bureau's release but estimated that 160 to 180 Turkish journalists remain imprisoned.

"The liberation of Loup Bureau is welcome but the situation in Turkey has not changed," said RSF chief Pierre Haski.

Read more: Turkey's Can Dundar opens press freedom discussion

Turkey ranks 155th on the latest world press freedom index compiled by RSF, falling below Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

bik/jl (AFP, dpa)

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