Turkey has sent six Cumhuriyet journalists and media staff to prison after their sentences were upheld by an appeals court, the Turkish media reported.

More than twenty people stood trial last year in a case related to the publications of the Cumhuriyet newspaper. The trial concluded with 18 defendants, journalists as well as media executives and staff, being handed down various prison sentences. A Turkish appeals court on Feb. 19 upheld the sentences, meaning those who received less than five years will have to start serving their sentences, while others with longer sentences will be able to lodge an appeal with a higher court.

Accordingly, Musa Kart, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Emre İper, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik and  Güray Öz have been sent to prison on Thursday to serve the remainder of their sentences.

Gürsel announced the development on Twitter yesterday.

“I wish he was sincere in what he says, but I know he isn’t,” Gürsel said, quoting a news article about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent remarks calling for a national reconciliation after the local elections of March 31.

“Here’s why I knew Erdoğan wasn’t sincere: The sentences upheld in the Cumhuriyet trial were uploaded to UYAP one day after İmamoğlu received his mandate to govern. Eight Cumhuriyet employees including me are going to prison,” Gürsel tweeted, referring to opposition mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu, who won the İstanbul election.

Eight Cumhuriyet employees including me are going to prison,” Gürsel tweeted, referring to opposition mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu, who won the İstanbul election.

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.