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French reporter jailed in Turkey to be freed: lawyer

2 min

Paris (AFP)

A young French reporter who has been held on terror charges in Turkey for the last seven weeks is set to be freed Friday, his lawyers said.

The news came a day after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had pressed Turkish leaders on a visit to Ankara to free 27-year-old journalism student, Loup Bureau.

Bureau's lawyers said "we have the satisfaction to announce that he is being freed" while Christophe Deloire, of Reporters Without Borders, said on Twitter than Bureau's release was "imminent" and he would return to Paris on Saturday.

French President Emmanuel Macron had previously sought to secure the reporter's release in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who also met Le Drian on Thursday.

Bureau, a journalism student who has worked with French channel TV5, was detained in late July at Habur border post in southeastern Sirnak province on the Iraqi-Turkish frontier.

He was charged with membership of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a group Ankara says is a terrorist organisation.

Washington, however, sees the group as the main force leading the fight against Islamic State jihadists on the ground in Syria.

His arrest has further heightened alarm over press freedom in Turkey under Erdogan, with foreign reporters also caught up in a massive crackdown following a failed coup in July 2016.

Turkey ranks 155 on the latest world press freedom index put together by Reporters Without Borders, falling below Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In June, Ankara released and deported French photojournalist Mathias Depardon who was held for a month on charges of supporting terror groups. He was also detained in Turkey's restive southeast.

Bureau is also expected to be deported.

Germany's Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yucel was imprisoned in February and has been personally accused by Erdogan of working as a "terror agent".

According to the P24 press freedom website, there are 171 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most of whom were detained under the state of emergency imposed after last year's coup attempt.

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