The members of the International Press Institute (IPI) Executive Board today published a letter expressing their “utmost support” for fellow Board member Kadri Gürsel, whose arbitrary conviction and jailing on unfounded terrorism charges was upheld last month by a court in Turkey.

Gürsel was one of 14 executives and journalists with the secular newspaper Cumhuriyet sentenced last April to prison despite a lack of evidence and in retaliation for the paper’s critical journalism.

IPI Executive Board Chair Markus Spillmann delivered the letter to Gürsel in person today during a solidarity visit to Istanbul. Read the full letter below.

Dear Kadri,

We, your fellow members of the International Press Institute (IPI) Executive Board, want to express our utmost support for you.

Last month, an appeals court in Turkey upheld the jail sentence you received in April 2018 along with over a dozen other journalists and staff members of the newspaper Cumhuriyet. We believe now, as we believed then, that this sentence is a punishment for your brilliant journalism. We know that there was no evidence to support the charges against you. We know that you are guilty of no crime. We know that your rights to liberty and to freedom of expression have been grossly violated.

Most of all, we know that you are a journalist of tremendous professionalism and ethical integrity and we are proud to call you our colleague and friend. It is an honour for us to count you as a member of our Board.

We are deeply inspired by the courage that you have shown in continuing to stand up for quality, independent journalism despite the relentless attacks you and others like you in Turkey have suffered. Because you decided to remain independent and critical – because you decided to continue doing your job – you have been harassed, defamed, tried and jailed.

Now, you are facing the prospect of returning to jail again, although you have done nothing wrong. We strongly condemn your conviction and we urge the relevant authorities to take account of the fact that you already served an extensive period in pre-trial detention and therefore release you to serve the remaining portion of your sentence on probation.

In this difficult time, we want you to know that we – 23 editors and media executives from 20 countries on five continents – stand with you. We reject the charges against you. We reject the abuse you have suffered. And we look forward to seeing you in person soon.

Signed on behalf of your fellow IPI Executive Board members:

Markus Spillmann
IPI Executive Board Chair