Turkey arrests teacher over ByLock use despite ECtHR judgment

Güler Çetinkaya

Turkish authorities have arrested former teacher Güler Çetinkaya due to her alleged use of the ByLock mobile messaging app despite a landmark European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling delivered last year, the TR724 news website reported.

Çetinkaya is accused of links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the Turkish government of “terrorist activities.”

Other evidence involved Çetinkaya’s attendance at religious conversation groups and her previous work as a teacher for a Gülen-affiliated tutoring center.

Her husband, also a teacher, has been behind bars for four years in northwest Turkey on conviction of a similar offense.

Their two children, aged 4 and 7, were left to the care of relatives after both parents went to prison, the report said.

In October 2023 the ECtHR released a landmark ruling criticizing Turkey’s use of ByLock as evidence as being broad and arbitrary, lacking necessary safeguards for a fair trial.

The Strasbourg court described the problem as systemic in nature, calling on Ankara to remediate thousands of cases.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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