A couple has been arrested by a court and charged with ByLock use after attempting to flee to Greece in a bid to escape a post-coup witch-hunt currently ongoing in Turkey, the Diken news website reported on Wednesday.
Afif Demirtaş, who worked as a technician at a university, and his wife, Habibe Demirtaş, a police officer, were arrested on charges of using ByLock, a smart phone application that Turkish authorities believe is a communication tool among followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the government of being behind a failed coup last year.
Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and housemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
A recent legal opinion published in London found that tens of thousands of Turkish citizens detained or dismissed from their jobs on the basis of downloading ByLock have had their human rights violated.
According to a report in The Guardian on Monday, a study commissioned by opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and conducted by a pair of 2 Bedford Row attorneys, argues that the arrest of 75,000 suspects primarily because they downloaded the ByLock app is arbitrary and illegal.
According to the report by Guardian legal affairs correspondent Owen Bowcott, the legal opinion was commissioned by a pro-Gülen organization based in Europe. The two experienced British barristers, William Clegg QC and Simon Baker, drafted the opinion.
“The evidence that the [ByLock] app was used exclusively by those who were members or supporters of the Gülen movement [is] utterly unconvincing and unsupported by any evidence,” the two barristers said, according to the Guardian. “There is a great deal of evidence … which demonstrates that the app was widely available and used in many different countries, some of which had no links to Turkey.”
The detention of people on this basis is “arbitrary and in breach of article 5” of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantees the right to liberty, the report says.
The report examines transcripts of recent trials of Gülen followers in Turkey as well as Turkish intelligence reports on ByLock. It concludes that the cases presented so far violate the ECHR, to which Turkey is a party.