June 19, 2017
Thirty-one attorneys were arrested in İstanbul on Monday as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind a failed coup last summer.
According to a pro-government Karar daily story, 31 lawyers were arrested by an İstanbul court while 14 others were released pending trial as part of an investigation in which 78 lawyers were detained for use of the ByLock smartphone application. Thirty-three other lawyers remain in pre-trial detention, Karar said.
Turkish authorities consider ByLock to be the top communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for allegedly using ByLock since a failed and controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Critics say the use of a technological application is not a criminal activity nor is it evidence of membership in a terrorist organization.
A letter sent by Turkey’s Security Directorate General to all police units in the country last October told police officers to obtain confessions from individuals who had been detained due to their use of ByLock because mere use of the application is not considered a crime.
On June 2, 2017, 22 lawyers were also detained by police and later arrested by a court in İzmir province including Amensty International’s Turkey Chair Taner Kılıç.
Turkish government have issued sweeping arrest warrants against more than 1100 lawyers within last 11 months on what is believed to be a part of crackdown on critics and opponents of Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan and his government.
So far about 500 lawyers including prominent criminal law attorneys and heads of provincial Bar Associations were formally arrested while many were forced to self-exile to avoid torture and ill treatment in jails. The government also purged at least 108 academics including famous law professors from law schools of public universities and fired over 100 government lawyers en masse.