Christophe Deloire, who fought for threatened journalists, has died at the age of 53

Christophe Deloire, who fought for threatened journalists, has died at the age of 53
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Christophe Deloire, whose nonpartisan organization to protect journalists saved dissidents from prison and championed a diversity of viewpoints in the profession around the world, died Saturday in Paris. He was 53 years old.

The cause would be complications due to brain cancer, according to Reporters Without Borders, the media group of which he has been general secretary for 12 years.

Deloire, who was himself a journalist and author, lobbied publicly and worked behind the scenes to promote a free press in countries that muzzled journalists. He helped negotiate freedom for those who had been threatened with arrest, imprisoned or held hostage.

In 2023, Reporters Without Borders, known by its French initials RSF, coordinated the clandestine escape of Marina Ovsyannikova, a former Russian state TV journalist who incensed the Kremlin by storming a live news program in 2022 to denounce the invasion of Ukraine.

Ms. Ovsyannikova was fined and forced to choose between prison and exile. Then, after another public outcry, she was placed under house arrest while awaiting trial. On the advice of her lawyers, she fled Russia with her 11-year-old daughter, evading authorities by changing cars several times before trudging through the mud to cross the border into France.

Deloire also contributed to the release of Olivier Dubois, a French journalist kidnapped by Islamic extremists in Mali and held for almost two years until his release in 2023.

As a leader and spokesperson for the Paris-based RSF, Deloire oversaw a program to provide Ukrainian journalists with protective gear and training after the Russian invasion began, and established a Journalism Trust Initiative to certify the viability of media assets as a means to help restore public trust in the news media.

In his pursuit of pluralism in the profession, Deloire was a leading opponent of the appointment last summer of Geoffroy Lejeune, a far-right media mogul, as editor-in-chief of Le Journal du Dimanche, France’s only Sunday newspaper.

In 2017, protesting against the car bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known investigative journalist, Deloire declared: “The pen conquers fear”.

He also warned that the coronavirus pandemic had a chilling effect on freedom of expression, allowing governments to “take advantage of the fact that politics is on pause, public opinion is stunned and protests are out of the question, to impose measures that would be impossible.» in normal times.»

And he defended Julian Assange, whom the United States tried to extradite from Britain after WikiLeaks, the organization he founded, published leaks in 2010 of an army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning.

Reporters Without Borders hailed Deloire as “a tireless defender, on every continent, of the freedom, independence and pluralism of journalism, in a context of information chaos”.

“Journalism was the battle of his life, which he fought with unwavering conviction,” the RSF statement added.

Christophe Nicolas Deloire was born on May 22, 1971 in Paray-le-Monial, Burgundy, eastern France. His parents, Lucien Deloire and Marie-Annick Chevasson, were teachers.

After attending the Higher School of Economic and Commercial Sciences, Deloire became an investigative reporter covering politics and society for the magazine Le Point from 1998 to 2007. He then directed the Center de Formation des Journalistes, a professional school in Paris, from 2008 . to 2012.

His survivors include his wife, Perrine, and a son, Nathan.

Deloire has worked for public and private television broadcasters and has written several books, including two with Christophe Dubois: one on Islamic extremism, a best seller in France in 2004, and another on sex and politics, published in 2008.

In “Sexus Politicus” the authors argue that a successful French politician is also seductive and that journalists owe their readers and viewers the whole story and all the facts on a given issue.

“If tomorrow the French, the readers or the voters, accused us again of having kept a secret between ourselves, of accepting different standards for the powerful than the humble, what would we tell them?” Deloire wrote in Le Monde newspaper in 2011: “Our ambition should be to tell nothing but the truth, but the whole truth.”

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