Damla Güler – ISTANBUL,
Prominent Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal has been convicted on charges of conducting “terror propaganda” due to a 2016 article regarding one of the leading figures of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), receiving a suspended sentence of one year, three months in jail.
In the second hearing of the case on Feb. 14 in which Cemal was charged with “conducting terror propaganda” and “praising crime and criminals,” an Istanbul Court of Serious Crimes sentenced him to a 15-month suspended prison term but acquitted him on a second charge.
The journalist was on trial for a July 11, 2016, column titled “Fehman Hüseyin.”
“I have been doing journalism for 47 years. For the first time, I am being accused like this for the articles and books that I have written,” Cemal said during his hearing. “I have never defended terror. I have never become a tool for terror propaganda. I have always defended peace. Journalism is not a crime. There is no law, freedom and democracy in a society where journalism is a crime.”
Cemal is separately on trial for terror-related charges allegedly committed while he was serving as a one-day editor-in-chief of daily Özgür Gündem as part of a solidarity campaign with the now-closed paper.
Özgür Gündem was shut down on Aug. 16, 2016, for allegedly conducting propaganda on behalf of the PKK and acting as the organization’s media organ.
During that case’s trial held on Feb. 14, prosecutors demanded Cemal’s imprisonment for up to eight years over charges of “carrying out terror propaganda.”
Along with Cemal, trials into more than 20 other journalists and intellectuals, including Ayşe Düzkan, Ragıp Duran, M. Ali Çelebi, Can Dündar and Necmiye Alpay, who participated in the solidarity campaign for Özgür Gündem, were also held at two Istanbul courts.
During the hearing of Alpay – a prominent Turkish linguist – prosecutors also gave their opinion and demanded her imprisonment for up to eight years on charges of carrying out “terror propaganda” and “releasing the organization’s press releases,” referring to the PKK.
The court adjourned hearings in the case into Alpay and several other defendants.
However, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Central Board Committee member Çilem Küçükkeleş and publisher Cengiz Baysoy were given suspended sentences of one year, three months each in jail for conducting terrorist propaganda while participating in the Özgür Gündem solidarity campaign.
The pair was also assessed fines of 6,000 Turkish Liras each for “printing and publishing a statement from a terrorist organization.”