T24 columnist and P24’s Founding President Hasan Cemal’s passport was seized on 1 December 2019 at the Istanbul Airport as he was about to board a flight to Berlin.
Cemal was notified by police officers that a travel ban had been imposed on him on 11 November 2019 in relation to a prison sentence he was given at the end of the April 2018 retrial of his case by the 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul over his article series “Çekilme Günlüğü” (chronicles of retreat). Cemal was given a suspended prison sentence of 3 months and 22 days on the charge of “propaganda.”
Cemal’s lawyer Fikret İlkiz objected to the judicial control measures imposed on Cemal with the 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul, informing the court that the case was pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals. Accepting İlkiz’s objection, the court lifted Cemal’s travel ban.
1 December 2019:
Turkey seizes passport of veteran journalist Hasan Cemal
Turkish authorities seized the passport of prominent journalist Hasan Cemal, 75, due to a travel ban recently imposed on him as he was about to travel to Berlin from İstanbul on Sunday afternoon, BBC Turkish reported.
Cemal told BBC that the reason for the travel ban was a case launched against him on terrorism charges, adding that his lawyer had petitioned the İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court for the removal of the ban. Later on Monday, the court ruled to revoke the restriction.
Cemal said he was asked to sign a judicial document at the airport which revealed that the travel ban was imposed on him on Nov.11.
Cemal faces nine years in prison on charges of terrorist propaganda due to an article he wrote for the T24 news website in 2015. The journalist is accused of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in his column, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984.
8 May 2019:
Judicial Fine for Journalist Cemal Over 'Silvan' Article
The final hearing of the case where journalist Hasan Cemal has been on trial for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" because of his article titled, "From Silvan: They made us so accustomed to pain and death," has been held at the 36th Heavy Penal Court at the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan.
Announcing its verdict, the court ruled that Cemal shall be sentenced 3 months and 22 days in prison for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization."
Ruling that the prison sentence shall be turned in to a judicial fine of 3,060 Turkish liras, the court did not defer the announcement of the verdict and did not adjourn the sentence.
"There is peace in every article I wrote"
Cemal stated his defense as to the accusations, requesting his acquittal:
"Today, Turkey is experiencing a great downfall in terms of democracy, law and freedom. A 50-year journalist in the age of 75 being tried here for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" is one of the sad pictures of this downfall.
"I would like to emphasize this: Throughout my professional life, I have never been a "propaganda writer'. And I have always defended peace. I wrote four books, thousands of articles about the Kurdish problem. There is peace in every one of them."
"YSK verdict is the last nail on the coffin of the democracy"
"The mentality that wants to send me to prison for terrorist propaganda after all those years doesn't have any relation to law and freedom, it can't have. Many pictures regarding the great downfall Turkey is experiencing in terms of democracy, law and freedom swim before my eyes.
"Among them, there are many figures who are still behind bars. One more indicator on the downfall must be pointed out. There are 180 countries in the world. And in terms of press freedom, Turkey ranks only 157th in these 180 countries.
"A country deprived of press freedom to such extent is a country that is very far away from democracy, law and freedom.
"As for the Supreme Election Council's verdict on İstanbul and İmamoğlu... It is the last nail to the coffin of the democracy."
"Despots will be convicted before history"
"Dear Judges; saying, 'democracy, law, freedom,' I sometimes feel very helpless. Today, I am living one of those days. But I still underline that the flag of democracy, law and freedom won't drop down from my hand until the end of my life.
"Because I certainly believe this: The despots won't be able to escape from being convicted before history. "
After Cemal, his attorney Fikret İlkiz made a statement, saying that the people who were interviewed in the mentioned article were acquitted of violating Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law and the verdict was finalized.
İlkiz said that his client performed his duties as a journalist and requested the acquittal of Cemal, saying that Article 28 of the Constitution, Article 3 of the Law No. 5187 on Press, and Article 10 of the ECHR guarantees freedom of press and expression.
Announcing its decision after a break, the court ruled that Cemal shall be sentenced to 1 year, 6 months and 22 days in prison for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization."
The court stated that the 22nd Heavy Penal Court sentenced him to 1 year and 3 months in prison, hence reduced the sentence to 3 months and 22 days. It turned this sentence into a judicial fine.
17 April 2019:
During a hearing on Tuesday, the prosecutor said Cemal had supported the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a column he wrote for the T24 news website in 2015.
Cemal, 74, is known for his support for the resolution of the more than three-decade long Kurdish conflict. He heavily criticised the government after it launched military operations in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast in 2015 following the collapse of a two-year peace process.
3 Jasnuary 2019:
Hasan Cemal appears before court for 2015 article
T24 columnist Hasan Cemal, the founding president of the P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, on 3 January appeared before an Istanbul court for the first hearing of a trial where he is accused of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” in an article he penned in December 2015.
Veteran journalist Hasan Cemal, 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.
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 asserted that they did not constitute any offense.
7 December 2018:
He came to the Çağlayan Courthouse in İstanbul with his attorney Fikret İlkiz.
In his two-page statement of defense, Cemal stated that what he wrote in his article is within the limits of freedom of expression and pleaded not guilty.
Cemal was also asked about a Twitter account named Fuat Avni, which is said to be propagandizing for the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which is held responsible for the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The journalist answered "I don't know Fuat Avni. What I know about him is what I see about him on the media, like everyone. Making connections between my article and what Fuat Avni wrote is wrong."
'This investigation is unlawful'
Fikret İlkiz, attorney of Hasan Cemal, stated that they appealed for a verdict of non-prosecution:
"Launching an investigation for insulting the president is unlawful. In an investigation which was started on the ground of the Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code, it is contrary to the Law on Penal Courts to try to make a connection with the FETÖ/PDY organization."
'You cannot scare me'
Hasan Cemal also responded to a news story of a pro-government newspaper Yeni Akit on Twitter. The newspaper brought Hasan Cemal to its headline yesterday, with the title "The West Poured Money to Hasan Cemal's Independent Platform for Journalism: This is How They Feed Treachery", referring to the P24 platform.
Yeni Akit also claimed that Cemal is "fugitive and abroad" on the day when he deposed to the Prosecutor's Office. Cemal said, "You will give account to the judiciary because of the slanders and lies" on Twitter. (OI/EKN/VK)