Hasan Cemal handed down 3 months 22 days in prison in retrial of case in which he was initially acquitted
P24 founding president and T24 columnist Hasan Cemal was sentenced to 3 months and 22 days in prison on April 3, 2018, for a series of articles published in 2013. The ruling came at the end of a retrial overseen by the 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. The court initially handed down a sentence of one year, six months and 22 days, but reduced the length of the prison term to three months and 22 days after taking in consideration that Cemal had already been convicted to one year and three months in prison in another trial on similar charges. The court suspended the sentence for one year.
Cemal was indicted on charges of “conducting propaganda for an armed terrorist organization” for the article series where he chronicled PKK militants’ withdrawal from Turkey as part of the Peace Process in 2013. Cemal was acquitted during the first trial on the case, but the ruling had later been repealed by the 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice in late 2017, leading to a retrial.
During the first hearing of the retrial held on January 18, the prosecutor sought the maximum sentence for propaganda charges, requesting 13 years in prison on grounds that the offense was “repeated.”
In his defense statement during the January 18 hearing, Cemal rejected all allegations saying he only “defended peace”:
I am here because I disapprove of terror and violence; because I refuse to live a lie. I refuse to live a lie and I declare once more that the regime in Turkey that forces people today to live in a lie has nothing to do with the rule of law and liberty; in short, with democracy. I have no doubt that at long last, those who choose to live in the truth, not in a lie, those who defend liberty, will prevail.
A suspended 1 year and 3 months sentence on the charge of “conducting propaganda for an armed terrorist organization” for another column by Hasan Cemal entitled “Fehman Hüseyin” had been previously approved by the Istanbul Regional Court. The court also approved a fine of TL 6,000 against Cemal in another case launched for taking part in a solidarity campaign with the shuttered pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem.