In his statement before a prosecutor on Thursday, Hasan Cemal says he exercised his right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression

Veteran journalist Hasan Cemal, who is the founding president of P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, on 6 December gave his statement before a prosecutor at the Istanbul Courthouse as part of an investigation where he is accused of “insulting the president.”

The accusation stems from a column by Cemal, published in the online news outlet T24 in July. The investigation was first launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office upon an anonymous complaint in August. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in October transferred the file to Istanbul for lack of jurisdiction.

Accompanied by his lawyer Fikret İlkiz during his visit to the courthouse, Hasan Cemal submitted a two-page written statement to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. In his oral statement before the prosecutor, Cemal explained that the expressions in his column constituted an exercising of his right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and that they did not constitute any offense. Adding that criminalizing the expressions in his article would amount to a violation of the law and freedom of expression, Cemal rejected the accusation.

During the interrogation, Hasan Cemal was also asked a question about the Twitter account known as “Fuat Avni.” The prosecutor claimed that Cemal, “as determined by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, used in his article expressions frequently used by the Twitter user known as Fuat Avni, which disseminated propaganda for the FETÖ/PDY terrorist organization.”

In response to this question, Cemal said attempting to establish a connection between the expressions in his article and those used by the said Twitter account would be a mistake.

Cemal’s lawyer Fikret İlkiz told the prosecutor that an attempt to establish a connection with the FETÖ/PDY in an investigation where the accusation is based on Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code was in violation of criminal procedure. İlkiz requested that the investigation be dropped.