Turkish court orders compensation for a victim of ByLock frenzy

A Turkish court has ordered compensation to be paid to one of many individuals falsely detained by police on suspicion of having been associated with the Gülen movement due to ByLock mobile phone messaging application, according to Turkey’s pro-government Hürriyet daily on Saturday.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Those affected by the court ruling were detained on the strength of having an encrypted communication app called ByLock. In the purge that followed the coup bid, many were detained purely because they were allegedly found to have ByLock application on their mobile phones. However, it has since been shown that many alleged ByLock users did not actively download the app, thereby undermining the justification for their detentions.

Subsequently, more than 11,000 people launched compensation claims against the government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying they had been unlawfully detained.

According to the report by Hürriyet daily, a court in Bursa province has now upheld one of these claims, ordered Turkish treasury to pay 500 Turkish Lira (around $100) to a teacher, S.T. in damages after she was detained for two days by police in October 2017 after ByLock was allegedly found on her phone.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with 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 them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement. (SCF with Ahval)

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