1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
MediaGlobal issues

Reporters Without Borders chief dies of cancer aged 53

June 8, 2024

Christophe Deloires led the Paris-based press freedom group for more than a decade. The former newspaper and TV reporter was praised for defending freedom of information and democratic debate.

Christophe Deloire during the RSF Press Freedom Awards 2022 ceremony in Paris, France, on December 12, 2022
Christophe Deloire died of cancer on Saturday, aged 53Image: Jana Call me J/ABACA/picture alliance

Christophe Deloire, director-general of the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), died of cancer aged 53, the organization said Saturday.

The former newspaper and TV reporter had led the media watchdog since 2012, helping it expand its defense of journalism around the world.

"The team at Reporters Without Borders’ international secretariat ... are deeply saddened to announce the death of Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders International and director-general of Reporters Without Borders, following a battle with cancer," a statement from the group said.

RSF said Deloire had "transformed the association, " and was a "tireless defender on every continent, of the freedom, independence and pluralism of journalism, in a context of information chaos."

The statement continued, "Journalism was his life's struggle, which he fought with unshakeable conviction. "

World Press Freedom Index: Press freedom in decline

Macron and peers pay tribute

In a tribute on X, formerly Twitter, French President Emmanuel Macron said Deloire "had journalism at his heart."

He said the former reporter and documentary filmmaker had fought "tirelessly" for freedom of information and democratic debate and that "his universal fight remains ours."

Also paying tribute, Stella Assange, the wife of jailed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, wrote on X that she was "deeply saddened to learn that today we lost Christophe Deloire. We are forever grateful for his outspoken commitment to freeing Julian with @RSF_inter."

The lawyer and human rights activist, continued: "I wish he could have seen the day Julian walks free. The press has lost a great advocate and the world has lost a wonderful man."

Assange remains in jail in Britain fighting extradition to the United States for divulging US military secrets about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The Council of Europe's media freedom account wrote on X: "Terrible news and such a huge loss for the press freedom. You will be missed, Christophe."

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom wrote: "Christophe was a tireless defender of journalism and his loss will be felt deeply across the press freedom community."

Why a free press in Africa is vital for development

Autocratic and democratic nations pressured by RSF's work

RSF launched in 1985 in Montpellier, southern France. The organization works on the ground in defense of journalists at risk and to pressure countries in the world to uphold the right to information.

Over the decades, it has become a thorn in the side of autocratic and despotic regimes around the world which try to muzzle the media.

The group has not shied away from angering powerful figures, labeling leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "predators" of press freedom. 

RSF publishes an annual press freedom index, which in May decried a decline in support and respect for media autonomy.

It has repeatedly condemned press freedom restrictions in Russia since Putin launched the war against Ukraine in 2022.

The group also launched a package of satellite news channels catering to Russia, much of it produced by exiled Russian journalists.

Speaking at an event in Brussels to mark the launch, Deloire hailed the new channels — known as the Svoboda Satellite project -- named after the Russian word for freedom.

"This is independent journalism — exported from democracies, by mostly media in exile — towards people living in countries with a despotic regime," he said.

mm/sms (AFP, DPA, EFE)