Reporters Without Borders Chief Christophe Deloire dies at 53


France

Christophe Deloire, who negotiated to free imprisoned journalists around the world and offered refuge to reporters under threat as the head of media freedom group Reporters Without Borders, died Saturday. He was 53.

Deloire had been battling sudden and aggressive cancer and died in Paris surrounded by loved ones, according to board members of Reporters Without Borders, also known by its French acronym RSF.

Deloire was ‘’a tireless defender, on every continent, of the freedom, independence and pluralism of journalism, in a context of information chaos,” RSF said in a statement.

“Journalism was his life’s struggle, which he fought with unshakeable conviction,’’ it added.

With boundless energy and a ready smile even when dishing out trenchant criticism, Deloire travelled constantly, to Ukraine, Turkey, Africa and beyond to lobby governments and defend journalists behind bars or under threat. Press freedom activists from many countries shared tributes to his work and mourned his passing.

Deloire helped Russian broadcast journalist Marina Ovsiannikova flee Russia in a secret operation in 2022 after she came under fire for denouncing the war in Ukraine on live television. RSF also launched a program to provide protective equipment and training to Ukrainian journalists after Russia’s invasion.

Publicly and behind the scenes, Deloire worked for the release of journalist Olivier Dubois, held by Islamic extremists in Mali for two years and freed in 2023, and for other jailed reporters.

In his 12 years at the helm of RSF, he expanded the group’s reach and activism and raised its profile with governments. RSF under his watch launched the Journalism Trust Initiative, a program to certify media organizations to restore public trust in the news, and a program called Forum for Democracy aimed at heading off threats to democratic thought and freedoms.

Born May 22, 1971 in Paray-le-Monial in Burgundy, Deloire worked as an investigative reporter and led a prominent French journalism school, CFJ, before becoming director of RSF.

He is survived by his wife Perrine and his son Nathan.

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