Photographer Mathias Depardon, who was arrested and detained by Turkish police on May 8, has begun a hunger strike to protest his detention, Reuters and other news outlets report.

Depardon, a French citizen based in Istanbul, was arrested while on assignment for National Geographic photographing in the town of Hasankeyf. An order for Depardon’s deportation was issued on May 11, but he remains in detention in a jail run by the National Department for Migration.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) reports that Depardon began his hunger strike on May 22.

RSF has called Depardon’s arrest “completely unjustified.” According to RSF, Hasankeyf police said they had arrested Depardon on suspicion of “propaganda for a terrorist organization.” His photos of members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey, had been published in French media.

Erol Önderoğlu, RSF’s representative in Turkey said, “The absurd charges brought against him seem designed solely to justify his arbitrary arrest after the event. We call for nothing less than his complete release, without prosecution or expulsion.”

At the time of his arrest, Depardon was working in Hasankeyf on a story for National Geographic about how the historic town could be damaged if a proposed dam is built.

Committee to Protect Journalists calls Turkey the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with 159 journalists currently in jail.

Related Article:
Photojournalist Andy Spyra Deported from Turkey on Allegations He’s a Jihadist

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