Female judge, academics detained over ByLock use in Hakkari and Erzurum

A female judge, identified with initials N.Ş.D., has been detained in Hakkari province as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government accuse of being behind a failed coup attempt on July 15.

The detained judge is accused of using of a smart phone application known as ByLock, which Turkish authorities say is the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement.

N.Ş.D. was reportedly among the 227 judges who were dismissed by The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) on Feb. 20. Some 4,000 judges and prosecutors have lost their jobs while many of them have been arrested since July 15.

Also, 17 academics and employees who were earlier dismissed from Erzurum’s Atatürk University were detained as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement on Friday. The detainees include two professors, several assistant professors and research assistants. Theses suspects are also accused of using the ByLock smart phone application.

Meanwhile, 14 people including 3 former police chiefs were also detained on Friday due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement. The people were detained as part of operations conducted across four provinces: İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Hatay.

On Friday, also, Turkish pianist Dengin Ceyhan, who was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in social media posts, was released from jail. Detained in a police raid on Feb.14, Ceyhan was arrested on the eighth day of his detention. He was released after a prosecutor objected to his arrest.

Known for his criticism of the government, Ceyhan played the piano during the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and supported academics who had signed a peace petition. However, no details have yet been released on the nature of the messages that led to his arrest today.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the coup “a great gift of God” and pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, According to figures compiled by turkeypurge.com which has been monitoring human rights violations in Turkey’s after failed coup on July 15, 2016, over 92,500 people were detained, 45,882 people were jailed with pre-trial arrest due to their alleged links to the movement.

Feb. 24, 2017

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