French journalist Loup Bureau (C) stands with French Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen (R) as he addresses media representatives after his arrival in France on September 17. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – French reporter Loup Bureau arrived in Paris on Sunday after being detained for terror related charges for over seven weeks in a Turkish jail.
“It was a bit of a surprise, as there were no signs announcing my release,” Bureau told reporters after touching ground at Paris' Charles-de-Gaulle airport.
Bureau was released on Friday, one day after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.
Turkish authorities arrested the 27-year-old French freelance journalist on July 26 while crossing into Turkey from Iraq for possessing material related to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and was prosecuted for “helping and supporting a terrorist organization.”
The Turkish government considers the YPG to be a Syrian affiliate of the outlawed and terror-listed Kurdistan’s Worker’s Party (PKK). YPG denies any organic links to the PKK.
The US-led international coalition has backed YPG fighters against ISIS since 2015.
Regarding his detention, Bureau said, “I was not ill-treated physically but there were threats and intimidations.”
However, once French President Emmanual Macron had appealed to Erdogan for his release, Bureau said, “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 attempt last year, including several European journalists.
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke out against the arrests in Turkey earlier this week.
"Journalists belong in newsrooms not in prisons," he said. "I appeal to the powers that be in Turkey, let our journalists go."
The Platform for Independent Journalism (P24) reported on July 28 there were 168 journalists in prison in Turkey. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) runs a blog entitled Turkey Crackdown Chronicle and documents arrests of journalists on a regular basis.