Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal has denied allegations that he “defamed the Turkish president” during an appearance in an Istanbul court as part of two separate investigations launched into two of his articles published on the news website T24.
Cemal said the two articles subject to the investigations were not intended to defame anyone, but were political criticisms, adding, “lawmakers should tolerate such criticisms and critical articles can sometimes be bold” as he appeared in the courthouse in Istanbul’s Çağlayan district on Sept. 30.
“I have been a journalist for 47 years. There is nothing insulting or defaming in the articles in question. Not in any single word or in the entire text” he said. “However, this article is a political criticism. A critical article can sometimes be bold, and is regarded as being within the context of freedom of expression in democratic societies” Cemal told Emin Aydinç, the prosecutor heading the investigations.
“Lawmakers should tolerate criticism” Cemal said.
Previously in early September, two separate investigations were launched into the two articles, titled “The sultan in the palace is culpable for the bloodshed” and “Hey, you” on the charge of one count of “defaming the Turkish president.”
Cemal, who was born in 1944 in Istanbul and is currently a columnist for T24, graduated from Ankara University’s Political Sciences School in 1965 and started his career in journalism at the weekly magazine Devrim in Ankara.
He has previously worked at the dailies Yeni Ortam, Anka Ajansı and Günaydın.
In 1973, he started a column in daily Cumhuriyet and became its Ankara bureau chief in 1979, two years before he assumed the role of editor-in-chief of the popular daily.
Most recently, Cemal worked at daily Milliyet for 15 years, but he was fired for his articles in 2013.