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ECHR Rules Against Turkey for Unlawful Detentions Linked to ByLock and Series F $1 Bills

December 12, 2023 – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued a new ruling against Turkey, declaring that detentions based on accusations such as using the encrypted messaging app ByLock, possessing certain banknotes, or affiliating with specific institutions, lack legal basis and violate the right to liberty and security.

In a landmark judgment, the ECHR examined the cases of 366 individuals arrested in Turkey under various allegations, including the use of ByLock, depositing money in Bank Asya, subscribing to specific publications, and holding Series F $1 bills. The Court determined that these acts, even collectively, do not constitute reasonable suspicion for arrest or prolonged detention.

The ruling emphasized that the mere use of ByLock, an app alleged to be linked with certain political movements in Turkey, does not inherently raise a suspicion strong enough to justify arrest. This decision challenges a common practice in Turkish courts where ByLock usage has been a primary basis for detention.

The Court also addressed other accusations deemed legally unfounded, such as banking activities with Bank Asya, possession of certain currency notes, and employment in organizations connected to the Hizmet Movement. The ECHR clarified that these activities were lawful when conducted and, absent additional concrete evidence of criminality, should be presumed legal.

This decision from the ECHR highlights concerns over the erosion of civil liberties and judicial overreach in Turkey, casting doubt on the legal grounds for numerous detentions in recent years. The ruling serves as a significant rebuke to the use of broad and ambiguous criteria for arrests and detentions in the country.

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