HSYK downgrades status of judge who reject ByLock use as evidence of crime

Judge Şenol Demir

Turkey’s Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) downgraded status of Antalya Regional Court of Justice head Şenol Demir and appointed him as Konya Judge after he refused to accept use of ByLock, a smart phone application that authorities believe is a communication tool between members of the Gülen movement, as evidence of crime.

According to a story in Evrensel daily on Sunday, Demir was appointed as Konya Judge by a HSYK 1st Chamber decision on May 9.

Demir recently reversed a judgment by a Denizli court which ruled for the imprisonment of Hacer Aydın, a Gülen movement follower in Denizli, for six years and three months over use of ByLock.

In his judgment, Demir said “ByLock alone, as suggested in MİT (National Intelligence Agency), be an evidence of crime.”

Turkish authorities claim that ByLock is the top communication tool among members of the faith-based Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15. Critics, however, have blasted the government for detaining thousands simply for using a mobile application.

A letter sent by Turkey’s Security Directorate General to all police units in the country in last October tells police officers to secure confessions from individuals who have been detained due to their use of ByLock because mere use of the application is not considered a crime.

Tens of thousands of civil servants have either been dismissed or arrested for using the application. Critics say the use of a technological application is not a criminal activity nor is it evidence of membership in a terrorist organization.

According to reports in Turkish media, Turkey’s Security Directorate General and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) have an IP address list of the people who downloaded ByLock, but they don’t have the content of the conversations made over the application.

Judicial experts suggest that a person cannot be accused for using a certain means of communication, adding that they can be accused only if there is an element of crime in their messages. They also say that a court order is required to conduct technical surveillance and to be able to present the findings in court as evidence.

Technical surveillance data collected without a court order is not considered legal evidence by Turkish courts. (turkishminute.com) May 14, 2017

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