Journalist Hasan Cemal acquitted of ‘terror propaganda’ charges
Prominent Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal was acquitted on charges of “conducting terror propaganda” on March 7 but was still assessed a pecuniary fine of 6,000 Turkish Liras on charges of “publishing the statements of the terror organization” in the case of the now-closed daily Özgür Gündem’s solidarity campaign.
The Istanbul 22nd Court of Serious Crimes had been trying Cemal on charges of “publishing the statements of a terror organization” and “conducting terror propaganda,” with a prosecutor demanding between two and eight years in jail.
“I am here to defend free media,” Cemal said in his plea, adding that he served as the editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem for one day to show solidarity with Kurdish colleagues.
“I am reiterating that to defend free media is to defend democracy and peace,” he said.
Cemal had took office as the editor-in-chief of Özgür Gündem, which was shut down over its alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), for one day as a part of a solidarity campaign on June 15, 2016.
The court board later ordered the acquittal of Cemal on charges of “conducting terror propaganda,” while giving the journalist a 6,000-Turkish Lira pecuniary fine.
Cemal had been given a suspended sentence of 11 months and 20 days in prison on charges of insulting the president on March 1.
On Feb. 14, he was sentenced to a 15-month suspended prison term on charges of “conducting terror propaganda” and “praising crime and criminals.”
Fellow participants in the solidarity campaign were also sentenced to suspended jail terms in the same case as Cemal, with journalist Yıldırım Türker receiving a sentence of one year and 10 months in jail, journalist Nadire Mater receiving a sentence of one year, three months in jail and a 6,000-lira fine and writer Murat Uyurkulak receiving a sentence of one year, three months.
The trial into two others, writer İlham Bakır and artist Jülide Kural, was adjourned until March 28.