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Members of the International Press Institute (IPI) global Executive Board today released a statement condemning last week’s sentencing of Executive Board member Kadri Gürsel, along with more than a dozen of Gürsel’s colleages at Turkey’s secular Cumhuriyet newspaper, including several IPI members, to prison.

The full statement can be found below.

As members of the IPI Executive Board, we have observed with immense concern and sorrow the lengthy judicial process in Turkey that culminated last Wednesday with the convictions of our fellow IPI Board member Kadri Gürsel, our esteemed IPI members Murat Sabuncu and Ahmet Şık, and all of our colleagues at Cumhuriyet newspaper.

For the past 18 months, since our colleagues were first imprisoned, we have collectively and repeatedly protested against the imprisonment of Cumhuriyet’s representatives on preposterous grounds; against the numerous breaches in judicial procedure that IPI’s trial monitors have reported; against the lengthy pre-trial detentions, which cannot be reasonably justified and have no foundation in Turkish or international law; and, finally, against greatly disturbing sentences that impose prison terms for crimes that our colleagues have not committed and for which not a shred of evidence was ever presented – for the simple reason that no evidence exists.

The sentence against our fellow Executive Board member Kadri Gürsel is an attack on us all. It is an insult to those of us who have dedicated our professional life to the type of independent, critical, public-interest journalism that Kadri, Murat, Ahmet and their colleagues at Cumhuriyet have worked to deliver every day.

As Executive Board members of IPI, we will always stand side-by-side with those brave editors, journalists and media executives who hold their governments and institutions accountable and remind them of the commitments they have made to the international community and the people of their country.

We know that the Cumhuriyet defendants did not commit a criminal offence. All they did was journalism, of the highest quality, which makes us so proud to count Kadri as a member of our Executive Board, to count Murat and Ahmed as revered members of our community, and to count Akın Atalay, Orhan Erinç, Bülent Utku, Güray Öz, Önder Çelik, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Aydın Engin, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Emre İper as fellow members of our cherished profession.

Nevertheless, in spite of all the injustices that we have observed in the past months, we are not willing to give up on Turkey’s justice system: We look forward to seeing the sentences handed down on last Wednesday reversed on appeal.

Representing 20 countries and five continents, the IPI Executive Board will continue to monitor the decisions of Turkey’s courts in the hope that Turkey will eventually understand that those journalists and news executives it just sentenced to prison are, in fact, the ones who truly serve the public’s best interests.

IPI Executive Board members:

Owais Aslam Ali, Chairman, Pakistan Press International (PPI), Pakistan
Mahfuz Anam, Editor & Publisher, The Daily Star, Bangladesh
Beata Balogová, Editor-in-Chief, SME, Slovak Republic
Ole Kristian Bjellaanes, Managing Editor, Norwegian News Agency, Norway
Woosuk Kenneth Choi, Deputy Editor, Chosun Ilbo, South Korea
Monika Eigensperger, Director of Radio, Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), Austria
Sami El Haj, Head, Human Rights and Public Liberties Desk, Aljazeera Media Network, Qatar
Kim Fletcher, Editor, The British Journalism Review, UK
Daniel Hadad, CEO, Grupo Infobae, Argentina
Johannes Hano, Bureau Chief, ZDF German Television (New York/Canada), Germany
Hiroshi Komatsu, Editor-in-Chief, The Mainichi Shimbun, Japan
Daoud Kuttab, Director General, Community Media Network; Founder, AmmanNet, Jordan
Riyad Mathew, Editor, Malayala Manorama and The Week, India
Ken MacQuarrie, Director, Nations and Regions, BBC, UK
Tom Mshindi, Editor-in-Chief, Nation Media Group, Kenya
Kaius Niemi, Senior Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat, Finland
Virginia Pérez Alonso, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Publico.es; Chair, Platform for the Defence of Free Expression (PDLI), Spain
Markus Spillmann, Founder & CEO, SPILLMANN Media Strategy Management GmbH, Switzerland
Martha Steffens, Professor, SABEW Chair in Business and Financial Reporting, University of Missouri School of Journalism, USA
Dawn Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, One Caribbean Media Ltd., Trinidad & Tobago
John Yearwood, President, Yearwood Media Group, USA
Kabiru Yusuf, Chairman, Media Trust Ltd., Nigeria