The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editor, media executives and journalists, has urged Turkey to ensure the immediate release of eminent journalist and IPI Executive Board member Kadri Gürsel on probation.
Gürsel reported to prison today in Istanbul and is awaiting his release on probation. A former Cumhuriyet columnist, Gürsel was arrested on November 4, 2016, and spent 10 months and three weeks in pre-trial detention before being granted bail on September 25, 2017. He was charged with “aiding a terrorist organization without being a member” along with over a dozen more Cumhuriyet staff members. The case was tried at the High Criminal Court in Istanbul, which in April 2018 sentenced him to two years and six months in prison.
Gürsel appealed to the regional appeals court, which upheld the sentence in February of this year. However, as per the law of Turkey, Mr. Gürsel is entitled to serve the remaining approximately 11 months of his sentence on probation.
On May 2, the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that Gürsel’s rights to freedom of expression, liberty and security were violated by his imprisonment for nearly 11 months during the Cumhuriyet trial.
In a letter to Turkey’s Minister of Justice, Abdulhamit Gül, the IPI Executive Board members urged authorities to release Gürsel immediately to serve his remaining prison term on probation in accordance with Turkish law.
“We are apprehensive that the prison authorities might arbitrarily delay Mr. Gürsel’s release on probation”, members of the Executive Board said in the letter, urging the minister to instruct prison authorities to release Gürsel on probation and uphold the rule of law.