The cast of the film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 released an open letter Monday morning (July 30) on their social media accounts asking for the reinstatement of director James Gunn, who was ousted from Disney and the Marvel Comic Universe because of old tweets in which he joked about rape and pedophilia.

Zoe Saldana, who plays Gamora, posted a statement to Instagram in support of Gunn she had signed, as had her co-stars Chris Pratt (Star-Lord); Vin Diesel (Groot); Bradley Cooper (Rocket); Sean Gunn (Kraglin); Karen Gillan (Nebula); Pom Klementieff (Mantis); and Michael Rooker (Yondu).

It was reported on July 20 that Gunn was fired for his crude humor. In one tweet, he wrote, “I like when little boys touch me in my silly place.” In another, he joked, “The best thing about being raped is when you’re being raped and it’s like ‘whew this feels great, not being raped!'” The offensive tweets were written before he served as the director of the first two movies in the Guardians series, according to Deadline.

“To our fans and friends, We fully support James Gunn. We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss,” the letter begins. “In that time, we’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support from fans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstated as director of Volume 3 as well as discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding him.”

The letter continues, “We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support, and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2. The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all trust, and love.”

Neither Disney nor Marvel Studios had made an official statement announcing Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, however, because Vols. 1 and 2 were box office hits, earning $773 million and $863 million, respectively, it was assumed that he would be working on a follow-up script. The third film is said to begin shooting this fall. A release date has not been announced, but Gunn previously tweeted that the upcoming film should be released in 2020.

Read the letter in full below.