15 February, 2017 13:24

Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal sentenced to 15 months on charges of propagating terror

On February 14, an Istanbul court sentenced prominent Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal to a suspended prison term of 15 months on charges of propagating terror in one of his articles.

Hasan Cemal first stood trial on January 12, charged with “making the propaganda of terrorist organizations” and “praising crime and criminals” in a July 11, 2016 column titled “Fehman Hüseyin”; the name of a Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) member and Commander. At the time, an Istanbul prosecutor demanded up to nine years of imprisonment for the journalist.

In his initial testimony, Hasan Cemal had said, “I have been interested in the Kurdish issue and the outlawed PKK since 1980. I have written many columns and four books about this issue. No investigation has been opened on claims of making terrorism propaganda against any of my columns or books until today,” he stated. “A journalist may meet a terrorist leader who has pulled a gun on the state one day and then meet a Prime Minister the next day. These are the discrepancies and ironies of journalism,” he added.

The Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reports that “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”, which came to force after the media outlet was shut down in August of 2016 for allegedly conducting propaganda on behalf of the PKK and acting as the organization’s media organ. Along with Cemal, more than 20 other journalists and intellectuals were called to court for partaking in the solidarity campaign.

Hasan Cemal is a Turkish journalist, writer, and the grandson of Djemal Pasha. He was the editor of Cumhuriyet from 1981 to 1992, and of Sabah from 1992 to 1998. In 2013 he resigned from the Milliyet newspaper after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had criticised his article supporting Milliyet's publication of minutes of a parliamentary visit to Abdullah Öcalan, and Milliyet suspended him and refused to publish his returning column.

He is known for acknowledging and apologizing for the Armenian Genocide, a crime which was perpetrated in part by his grandfather. His 2012 book on the subject (written in response to the 2007 assassination of his friend Hrant Dink) is titled 1915: Armenian Genocide.