Journalist Hasan Cemal acquitted of ‘terror propaganda’ charges
Damla Güler – ISTANBULProminent Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal was acquitted on March 31 on charges of “conducting terror propaganda” via a column published in 2013.
The Istanbul 24th court of serious crimes unanimously ruled for Cemal’s acquittal in the case, after he was tried for conducting terror propaganda by “praising and justifying violent activities of the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK” in his serial column titled “Withdrawal Diary” published on the T24 news website on May 15, 2013.
The series charted the withdrawal of PKK militants from Turkish soil during the peace process, which has since collapsed.
On March 31, only one of the judges objected to the journalist’s acquittal, saying Cemal justified the foundation of the PKK and its violent acts in the series.
Earlier this month, the prosecutor demanded between one year and 10 months to 13 years in jail for Cemal, increasing the upper limit of the crime from seven-and-a-half years by citing it as a repeated offence committed through a number of articles.
The indictment had initially sought between one-and-a-half years to seven-and-a-half years for Cemal on the same charges.
In the first hearing of the case on March 9, Cemal pleaded not guilty, saying his column should be reviewed within the context of journalism.
“Peace was being defended during that period. A path for peace was being paved and the ways of the mountain [PKK headquarters] were being closed. As a journalist, my writings were solely about searching for answers on how the path to the mountains was once paved and how it could be closed,” he said.