Prominent journalist Cemal gets suspended sentence on terror charges

Renowned Turkish journalist Hasam Cemal has been given a suspended sentence of 15 months for allegedly disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization in an article he wrote on July 11, 2016.

Cemal is a columnist with the T24 news portal and a founding member of the P24 Independent Journalism Platform.

He appeared before the İstanbul 22nd High Criminal Court on Tuesday where he was given a suspended sentence of 15 months for promoting the propaganda of a terrorist organization in his article titled “Fehman Hüseyin,” while he was acquitted of the charges of praising a crime and criminal he faced due to the same article.

Fehman Hüseyin is one of the leading operatives of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Cemal has worked extensively on Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish problem.

In his defense, Cemal denied the charges and said he only performed his job as a journalist.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented the individual cases of 191 journalists who are either convicted and serving time in prison or jailed in pre-trial detention in a report released on January 26, 2017. According to the SCF, most of the journalists have not even seen an indictment against them. The report stated that 92 journalists are wanted for arrest but remain at large either in Turkey or abroad.

The SCF has also said that almost 300 journalists in Turkey, a member state of the Council of Europe and a candidate country for European Union membership, are languishing behind bars or facing outstanding arrest warrants. The number of media organizations seized and shut down by the government has reached 189, according to detailed SCF report. (with Feb. 14, 2017

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