Turkey issued detention warrants for 34 former TRT employees over alleged ByLock use

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 34 former employees of the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) on allegations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock on Wednesday. The former TRT employees have also been accused of having links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a Gülen follower as they see the mobile phone application as the top communication tool among Gülen followers. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.

Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 264 journalists are now in jails as of July 12, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 239 are arrested pending trial, only 25 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

Ekrem Yeter, son-in-law of Turkey’s former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is also seeking a prison sentence of 15 years for former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s son-in-law Ekrem Yeter on charges that he allegedly has links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

An indictment seeking 15 years in prison has been filed for Yeter, who was released four days after being arrested in June by a court in Ankara on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization,” due to his membership in the Gülen movement.

The indictment accuses Yeter of maintaining his relations with the Gülen movement after two corruption investigations became public in late 2013, implicating senior members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and depositing TL 41,000 in his account at Bank Asya, which was confiscated by the Turkish government in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt due to its links to the Gülen movement.

The indictment claims that Yeter deposited the money in his bank account after a call by Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, to save the bank from a government-led financial crisis.

Yeter, who was working as an associate professor in the cardiology department of Yıldırım Beyazıt University’s medical faculty in Ankara, was among the thousands of people dismissed from their jobs in September of last year as part of government decrees issued under a state of emergency declared in the wake of the failed coup attempt.

Lawyer Mustafa Yaman

Meanwhile, lawyer Mustafa Yaman, an executive board member of the Felicity Party’s (SP) İstanbul branch, has been arrested by an İstanbul court due to his alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement on Wednesday. Yaman was detained last Thursday at the SP İstanbul headquarters where he went to attend a meeting. Following Yaman’s arrest, SP supporters gathered in front of the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan to protest his imprisonment.

Moreover, Turkey’s Defense Ministry has announced on Wednesday that a total of 7,655 military personnels have been dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. According to the ministry, 150 generals and admirals as well as 4,287 other officers were dismissed while 786 have been suspended since the coup attempt.

Seven generals, 2,538 officers, 1,016 non-commissioned officers, 1,087 specialized and contracted sergeants and privates and 73 workers were dismissed and 140 were suspended in the Turkish Land Forces Command. In the Turkish Naval Command, 31 admirals, 646 officers, 368 non-commissioned officers, 30 specialized and contracted sergeants and privates and 27 workers were dismissed and 231, including 121 officers, were suspended. Thirty-two generals, 1,103 officers, 536 non-commissioned officers, 55 specialized and contracted sergeants and privates and 26 workers were dismissed and 415 were suspended from their positions in the Turkish Air Forces.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, 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 participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has announced on July 7, 2017 that at least 50,504 people have been arrested and 168,801 have been the subject of legal proceedings (investigations, detentions etc.) in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Also, arrest warrants have been issued for 8,069 people, according to Bozdağ. (SCF with turkishminute.com) July 12, 2017

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