Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal acquitted on charges of PKK propaganda

Hasan Cemal (right) with PKK commander Bahoz Erdal in 2014.

Prominent Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal was acquitted on Friday on charges of ‘conducting terrorist propaganda’ in a column published in 2013.

An Istanbul court unanimously ruled for Cemal’s acquittal in the case, after he was tried for conducting terrorist propaganda by “praising and justifying violent activities of the outlawed PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party]” in his serial column titled ‘Withdrawal Diary’ published on the T24 online news site on 15 May, 2013.

The series charted the withdrawal of PKK militants from Turkish soil during the ‘peace process’, which has since collapsed.

Today, only one of the judges objected to the journalist’s acquittal, on grounds that Cemal justified the foundation of the PKK and its violent acts in the series.

Earlier this month, the prosecutor demanded between 22 months to 13 years in jail for Cemal, increasing the upper limit of the crime from seven-and-a-half years by citing it as a repeat offence committed through a number of articles.

The indictment had initially sought between one-and-a-half years to seven-and-a-half years for Cemal on the same charges.

In the first hearing of the case on 9 March, Cemal plead ‘not guilty’, saying his column should be reviewed within the context of journalism.

“Peace was being defended during that period. A path for peace was being paved and the paths to the mountains [PKK headquarters] were being closed. As a journalist, my writings were solely about searching for answers on how the path to the mountains was once paved and how it could be closed,” he said.