Turkey’s top court finds rights violation in man’s dismissal due to spouse’s alleged ties to Gülen movement

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the firing of a man due to his wife’s alleged links to the Gülen movement violated his right to respect for private and family life, Turkish media reported.

Resul Aydın, who worked at a state-owned sugar refinery in the eastern Turkish province of Elazığ, was fired from his job by an emergency decree in 2017 as part of a purge of state institutions following a July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Aydın was informed by management that he was being let go because his wife was under investigation for allegedly using the ByLock encrypted message app and for having links to the Gülen movement.

In 2017 Aydın’s appeals to a regional court and the Supreme Court of Appeals were declined, with the courts ruling that his dismissal due to his wife was fair despite the fact that he had no links to the movement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish 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 the coup attempt in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.

Aydın then submitted an individual petition to the Constitutional Court, claiming his rights had been violated. The top court ruled that his dismissal violated the right to respect for private and family life, guaranteed in Article 20 of the constitution, as well as the right to fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in Article 15.

Although the top court rejected the compensation requested by Aydın, it decided that the case should be retried before the Elazığ Labor Court, taking into account its findings.

Following the failed coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

More than 130,000 public servants were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

ByLock, once widely available online, has been considered a secret tool of communication among supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch.

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