The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, has written to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron requesting the two leaders to take a firm stance against the imprisonment, intimidation and harassment of journalists in Turkey.

In letters sent to the Chancellor Merkel and President Macron, IPI has urged both leaders to raise the issue of press freedom and incarceration of journalists in Turkey during a summit meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on October 27 in Istanbul. The summit, which is focused on the war in Syria and which will also be attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, comes amid the international uproar over the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“In recent weeks, Turkey has adopted a double standard on the issue of press freedom and the safety of journalists”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said in her letter to the two leaders. “While IPI appreciates that the Turkish authorities have demanded answers in the gruesome murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, this incident should not distract from the fact that Turkey itself continues to not only jail and harass journalists at home, but also to harass and pursue those living abroad.”

There are currently more than 160 journalists behind bars in Turkey in connection with their work. Most of these journalists are charged with terrorism-related crimes on the basis of articles or social media posts critical of the Turkish government.

“IPI has closely followed the judicial procedures against these journalists and has directly observed numerous trials in various Turkish cities. Our observations and research show that Turkey’s jailed journalists are routinely denied the basic rights of defendants as well as the fair-trial guarantees under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It is critical that you take a strong and vocal stance in support of the rule of law and fundamental rights in Turkey”, Trionfi noted in her letter.

IPI has appealed to Chancellor Merkel and President Macron to urge President Erdoğan to release all jailed journalists and to ensure that any journalists facing criminal charges are guaranteed a fair trial by an independent judiciary. It is essential that Turkey return to the group of nations that respect press freedom and the rule of law.