Christophe Deloire, whose nonpartisan organization to protect journalists rescued dissidents from jail and championed a diversity of viewpoints in the profession around the world, died on Saturday in Paris. He was 53.

The cause was complications of brain cancer, according to Reporters Without Borders, the media group for which he served as secretary general for the last 12 years.

Mr. Deloire, who was himself a journalist and an author, lobbied publicly and labored 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 R.S.F., 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 protest, she was placed under house arrest pending a trial. On her lawyers’ advice, she fled Russia with her 11-year-old daughter, evading the authorities by switching cars several times before trudging through mud to cross the border and make her way to France.

Mr. Deloire also assisted in the release of Olivier Dubois, a French journalist who was abducted by Islamic extremists in Mali and held for nearly two years until he was freed in 2023.

As leader and spokesman for the Paris-based R.S.F., Mr. Deloire oversaw a program to provide Ukrainian journalists with protective equipment and training after the Russian invasion began, and he established a Journalism Trust Initiative to certify the validity of news outlets as a way to help restore public confidence in the news media.

In his quest for pluralism in the profession, Mr. 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 the car bombing that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known investigative journalist, Mr. Deloire declared, “The pen conquers fear.”

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

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

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

“Journalism was his life’s struggle, which he fought with unshakable conviction,” the R.S.F. statement added.

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

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

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

Mr. Deloire worked for public and private television broadcasters and wrote 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 a seductive one, and that journalists owe their readers and viewers the full story and all the facts on any given issue.

“If tomorrow the French people, readers or voters accuse us again of having kept a secret among ourselves, of accepting different standards for the powerful than for the humble, what will we tell them?” Mr. Deloire wrote in the daily newspaper Le Monde in 2011. “It should be our ambition to say nothing but the truth — but the whole truth.”

Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

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