Journalist Hasan Cemal given 11 month sentence for ‘insulting dictator Erdogan’

Veteran Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal

ISTANBUL – Prominent Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal was on March 1 convicted on charges of “insulting the president,” receiving a suspended sentence of 11 months and 20 days over an article published in 2016.

The Ankara 24th criminal court of first instance ordered the deferment of the announcement of the verdict over an article in which Cemal quoted remarks by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The prosecutor claimed that Cemal “exceeded the limits of criticism” by accusing Erdoğan of “dictatorship and corruption” in a Jan. 16, 2016 column on the T24 news website.

Cemal had testified in October 2016, saying remarks about the president in his column had been uttered by Kılıçdaroğlu and they should be evaluated within the scope of freedom of expression.

The court gave him a suspended sentence of 11 months and 20 days in prison on charges of insulting the president.

Separately, Cemal was sentenced to a 15-month suspended prison term on charges of “conducting terror propaganda” and “praising crime and criminals” on Feb. 14.

He is also on trial for terror-related charges allegedly committed while he was serving as a one-day editor-in-chief of daily Özgür Gündem as part of a solidarity campaign with the now-closed paper.