France demands release of French journalist arrested in Turkey
France has demanded that Turkey release a French journalist arrested there on Friday, as a crackdown on the media after an attempted coup this year continues to draw international criticism.
Olivier Bertrand, who works for French news website lesjours.fr, was arrested while reporting in the town of Gaziantep, just north of Turkey’s border with Syria. “What is happening is shocking and completely unacceptable. France demands the release of this journalist,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told Europe 1 radio yesterday. “We are in permanent contact with him (Bertrand) via our embassy. We are doing everything we can to get him released,” he added.
Turkey has detained tens of thousands of people over alleged links with Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in the United States who is accused of masterminding the abortive putsch - something he denies. The EU official in charge of relations with Turkey said earlier this month that Turkey’s quest to join the bloc would probably fail unless it reversed its clamp-down on civil rights, press freedoms and the judiciary.
France expressed “serious concern” this month at Turkey’s arrest of Kurdish lawmakers. Ayrault also voiced concern over signs that Turkey could bring back the death penalty, something Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said this month was a possibility.
Turkey abandoned the death penalty in 2002 as part of its EU accession process, although there had been no executions since 1984. — Reuters