Lawyer daughters of jailed police chief detained over ByLock use

Fatma Yılmazer (above) and Rabia Yılmazer, lawyers and the daughters of jailed police intelligence chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer, were arrested.

Fatma Yılmazer, the lawyer and daughter of jailed police intelligence chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer, was detained on Thursday over use of a smart phone application known as ByLock. Yılmazer’s younger daughter and intern-lawyer Rabia Yılmazer was also detained in Ankara and then taken to İstanbul.

ByLock is considered by Turkish authorities to be the top communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15,2016.

It was also reported by Cumhuriyet daily that Rabia Yılmazer, younger daughter of Ali Fuat Yılmazer, who was doing her bar internship in Ankara was detained and taken to İstanbul.

Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.

According to a report in the pro-government Sabah daily on Wednesday, Fatma Yılmazer also deposited money in the Gülen-affiliated Bank Asya to help it survive in the wake of a government operation to sink the bank. Bank Asya was closed down by the government in the aftermath of the coup attempt due to its links to the Gülen movement.

Ali Fuat Yılmazer was jailed following corruption probes in late 2013 implicating then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government and is accused of having committed a range of crimes, from illegal wiretapping to involvement in the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007.  He is being held in Silivri Prison, and his daughter was serving as his lawyer.

Turkish authorities have issued sweeping arrest warrants against about 800 lawyers within last seven months on what is believed to be a part of crackdown on critics and opponents of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government. So far 345 lawyers including prominent criminal law attorneys and heads of provincial Bar Associations were formally arrested while many were forced to self-exile to avoid torture and ill treatment in jails. The government also purged 108 academics including famous law professors from law schools of public universities and fired 108 government lawyers en masse.

What is more, the authorities also ordered the seizure of all assets of lawyers who faced an arrest although they were not convicted of any crime and there was no indictment filed and no trial hearing held yet. The seizure of assets has deprived family members of their livelihood while lawyers are left languishing behind bars in long pre-trial detentions.

Kahramanmaraş Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday issued detention warrants for  24 lawyers, including the President of provincial Bar Association Vahit Bağcı in the province due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, with 19 of them placed under police custody.

The military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

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.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.

A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed, and 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links. (SCF with turkishminute.com) March 16, 2017

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