Turkey’s Justice Ministry has claimed the legal attaché at its embassy in London allegedly sent an unauthorized document to a British court hearing a case on the requested extradition of businessman Akın İpek that said use of the ByLock smartphone app and financial aid to the Gülen movement cannot be considered evidence of terrorism.
The Justice Ministry claimed that the attaché submitted the note without approval from Ankara and launched an investigation into the attaché.
The note was revealed by journalists following Turkey’s extradition request from the UK of İpek on charges of links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which was established and flourished in Turkey. Tens of thousands of people in Turkey have been put in pre-trial detention for alleged use of ByLock and financial aid to organizations linked to the Gülen movement.
The state considers ByLock to be an encrypted communication tool among Gulen movement sympathizers in Turkey and has charged people for merely downloading the app. Turkey holds the movement responsible for a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and officially lists the faith-based movement as a terrorist organization.
The movement denies any involvement in the abortive putsch.
The Ministry of Justice released a statement on its website saying that an investigation has been launched into the legal attaché in London and that he has been recalled to Ankara.
The ministry argued that the legal attaché shared a one-page note with the UK court at his own initiative in violation of the regular procedures of the ministry. According to the ministry, none of the other documents sent to the UK court as evidence from Turkey deny that ByLock use and aid to the Gülen movement are evidence of terrorist support.
The ministry further argued that the note prepared by the legal advisor was not in line with decisions of the Supreme Court of Appeals in Turkey. The note had stated that almost half of the verdicts convicting people of ByLock use were reversed by the appeals court.
Since the coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, a massive purge of Gülen movement followers has been ongoing on allegations of coup involvement.
Last week the London court denied Turkey’s extradition request for İpek, who has openly supported the movement, citing the risk of ill-treatment in Turkey prisons.