Turkish journalists turn themselves in to serve prison sentences

Kadri Gursel embraces his wife after being freed from Silivri prison on September 26, 2017 in Istanbul, following a Turkish court order to free the columnist and editorial director of Turkey's opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet. An Istanbul court on Monday ordered the release of the leading journalist in the controversial trial of staff from the Cumhuriyet opposition newspaper, but ruled that four other detained suspects must stay in jail. / AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL

Several journalists and media staff who received prison sentences in a trial involving the Cumhuriyet newspaper arrived at the Kocaeli Courthouse on Thursday to start serving their time, the Diken newspaper reported.

The execution of their sentences was expected to begin after an appeals court in February upheld the verdict and uploaded its decision on the national judiciary database last week.

The Cumhuriyet trial concluded with a total of 18 defendants, journalists as well as media executives and staff, being handed down various prison sentences.

The upholding of the sentences in February meant that those who received more than five years would be able to lodge an appeal with a higher court, while the eight who received shorter sentences would have no more remedies and would have to start serving their time.

The group of eight that now has to go to jail includes journalist Kadri Gürsel as well as cartoonist Musa Kart.

A press freedom report by the Council of Europe recently qualified Turkey as the world’s largest jailer of journalists.

The country was also ranked 157th out of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.

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