Veteran Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal has been given a suspended sentence of three months, 22 days by a Turkish court for a series of articles documenting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) withdrawal from Turkey as part of an agreement with the government, according to a report by the Cumhuriyet daily on Tuesday.
Cemal, whose articles were published under the heading “Withdrawal Diary” on the T24 independent news website in 2013, had faced up to 13 years under Turkish terror and criminal law in a case opened against him four years later. He was acquitted in this trial, but the İstanbul 2nd Regional Court of Justice, a superior court, overturned the acquittal in November 2017 and ruled for a retrial, the Turkish Minute reports.
Cemal reappeared in court on Tuesday and was given a suspended sentence of three months, 22 days on charges of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization. “As a journalist, what I wrote at that time was how the road to the mountains [for PKK militants] opened up, in the search for an answer to the question of how it would not be closed. This was all journalism,” Cemal told the court at an earlier hearing.
“To bring about a prison case today about what I wrote in 2013 was to punish journalism. I defend peace rather than war, terror and violence. I will continue defending peace. I ask that I be found innocent.”
In November 2017, Cemal had also been given a suspended sentence of 15 months for “propaganda for an armed terrorist organization” and a TL 6,000 ($1,500) fine for “publishing a terror organization statement” in his other columns.