3 arrested out of 11 more people detained as part of ongoing witch-hunt in Turkey

Kahramanmaraş 11 more detained as part of witch-hunt in Turkey

Three people were arrested on Monday out of 11 suspects detained in Kahramanmaraş province as part of an investigation into the faith-based civic Gülen movement, local media reported.

Three of the detainees were released on their own recognizance, while five people are still in police custody, late reports said.

The 11 are under investigation for use of the ByLock smartphone app, essentially the same kind of application as WhatsApp, Skype, Signal and Blackberry Messenger. Despite the fact that the app was widely available on the Internet, the government believes it was used by movement supporters for encrypted messaging.

Human rights organizations strongly argue that the right to privacy requires encrypted messaging. A document published by Amnesty International (AI) on human rights activists arrested in Turkey in 2017, underlined that possession of an internationally available and widely downloaded application does not represent a criminal offense. “The Government’s methods for identifying users are seriously flawed in general,” AI said in the document.

On March 4, 2016 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein published a written statement on a heated d between Apple and the FBI and pointed out that “[e]ncryption and anonymity are needed as enablers of both freedom of expression and opinion, and the right to privacy. It is neither fanciful nor an exaggeration to say that, without encryption tools, lives may be endangered.”

More specifically, David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, highlighted in his report submitted to the UN’s Human Rights Council (35th session, June 6-23, 2017) that government action on ByLock usage is the criminalization of encryption and an example of human rights abuses.

Finally, a recent report published by the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has revealed the absurd pretexts used by prosecutors to indict suspects and judges to jail innocent people who are alleged to have been affiliated with the Gülen movement. The report finds that the fundamental principle of law such as “no crime without law,” has widely and systematically been violated.

Since a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life have been subject to investigation on trumped-up coup allegations. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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