French journalist deported from Turkey after earlier arrest

PARIS (Reuters) - French journalist Olivier Bertrand has been released, his employer said on Sunday, following his arrest in Turkey which had drawn condemnation from the French government.

Bertrand, who works for French news website, was detained on Friday while reporting in the town of Gaziantep, just north of Turkey’s border with Syria.

“Our journalist Olivier Bertrand is free, he is in a plane en route for Paris,” lesjours said on its official Twitter page.

Earlier on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had demanded that Bertrand be set free. The Turkish government has been cracking down on the media following a failed coup earlier this year.

The authorities have detained tens of thousands of people over alleged links to 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 Ankara said earlier this month that Turkey’s quest to join the bloc would probably fail unless it reversed its clampdown on civil rights, press freedoms and the judiciary.

France had also expressed “serious concern” this month at Turkey’s arrest of Kurdish lawmakers, while Ayrault voiced concern on Sunday over signs that Turkey could bring back the death penalty, something which Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said is a possibility.

Turkey abandoned the death penalty in 2002 as part of the EU accession process, although there had been no executions since 1984.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Andrew Bolton