French journalist freed by Turkey to arrive in Paris Sunday

People attend a rally in support of French journalist Loup Bureau, who has been detained in Turkey for the past month, in front of Paris’ 4th district hall in August. (AFP)
Updated 17 September 2017
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French journalist freed by Turkey to arrive in Paris Sunday

PARIS: A young French reporter who had been held on terror charges in Turkey, in a case that sparked tensions with France, arrived in Paris on Sunday after being freed.
Loup Bureau, 27, arrived onboard an Air France jet at Charles de Gaulle airport on a flight from Istanbul, the campaign group Reporters without Borders (RSF) said in a tweet.
After his arrival, he was taken to a VIP suite where he was effusively greeted by his family and friends. Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen was also there to welcome him.
"I am very relieved to be back," Bureau said.
Bureau, a journalism student who has worked with the television channels TV5 and Arte and the website Slate, was detained on July 26 at Habur border post in southeastern Sirnak province on the border with Iraq.
He was charged with membership of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a group which Ankara says is a terrorist organisation.
Bureau's arrest spurred a high-profile campaign in France for his freedom.
His release was announced on Friday after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Ankara and lobbied on his behalf.
The case has heightened alarm in Europe over press freedom in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has carried out a wide-ranging crackdown after surviving an attempted coup in July 2016.
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.
Germany's Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yucel was imprisoned in February and has been personally accused by Erdogan of working as a "terror agent".
Turkey ranks 155th on the latest world press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, falling below Belarus and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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.


Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters, says defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2018
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Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

  • Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military
  • A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday

JERUSALEM: Israel moved on Sunday to snap the lens shut on rights groups that film its troops’ interactions with Palestinians by introducing a bill that would make it a criminal offense.
Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military.
A video filmed by Israeli rights group B’Tselem in 2016 showing an Israeli soldier shoot dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant drew international condemnation and led to the soldier’s conviction for manslaughter in a highly divisive trial.
The proposed law, formulated by the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, would make filming or publishing footage “with intent to harm the morale of Israel’s soldiers or its inhabitants” punishable by up to five years in prison.
The term would be raised to 10 years if the intention was to damage “national security.”
A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday. It will now go to parliament for a vote that could take place this week and if ratified, will be scrutinized and amended before three more parliamentary votes needed for it to pass into law.
Yisrael Beitenu leader and Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, praised the committee and said: “Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters and supporters of terrorism who look constantly to degrade and sully them. We will put an end to this.”
A Palestinian official condemned the move.
“This decision aims to cover up crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against our people, and to free their hands to commit more crimes,” Deputy Palestinian Information Minister Fayez Abu Aitta told Reuters.
The phrasing of the bill stops short of a blanket ban, aiming instead at “anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian organizations” which spend “entire days near Israeli soldiers waiting breathlessly for actions that can be documented in a slanted and one-sided way so that soldiers can be smeared.”
Naming B’Tselem and several other rights groups, the bill says many of them are supported by organizations and governments with “a clear anti-Israel agenda” and that the videos are used to harm Israel and national security.
The ban would cover social networks as well as traditional media.
B’Tselem shrugged off the bill.
“If the occupation embarrasses the government, then the government should take action to end it. Documenting the reality of the occupation will continue regardless of such ridiculous legislation efforts,” the group’s spokesman, Amit Gilutz, said.
B’Tselem’s video of the shooting in the West Bank in 2016 led to Israeli soldier Elor Azaria being convicted of manslaughter. He was released in May after serving two-thirds of his 14-month term. Opinion polls after his arrest showed a majority of Israelis did not want a court-martial to take place.