Evidence has already piled up concerning the role of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in controversial trials that have seen hundreds imprisoned based on forged evidence and trumped-up charges. An intelligence report presented to the Supreme Court of Appeals in a trial over illegal wiretapping adds more evidence to that extent showing that nearly all prosecutors and judges handling those trials were users of ByLock — an encrypted app almost exclusively used by the group. The report by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which is working to detect users of the app, says that 32 judges and prosecutors among 54 defendants in the “Selam Tevhid” trial used the app.
Bylock is accessible through download via a virtually private network. Its modified version found in the cellphones of FETÖ suspects is not available in app stores according to security experts, who dismiss the claims of defendants in other Bylock cases who claim they “accidentally” downloaded it from app stores. Selam Tevhid refers to the “terrorist organization” concocted by prosecutors and police officers who were able to wiretap thousands of people, from journalists to academics — basically anyone known for their opposition of FETÖ. Police officers are being tried in a separate trial.
All the defendants were at the forefront of high-profile cases, which later turned out to be sham trials. The defendants were later acquitted after FETÖ was designated a “national threat” over its two attempts to topple the government in 2013 three years before officers linked to the group tried to seize power in a foiled putsch bid last summer. Muammer Akkaş, for instance, conducted the infamous Dec. 25 probe where prominent figures close to the government were sought to be imprisoned based on what the government called baseless charges. Through the so-called anti-graft probe, Akkaş sought to implicate then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the case, but he was dismissed from duty when it was revealed he tried to do it on trumped-up charges. He remains at large after an arrest warrant was issued for him in 2015 for links to FETÖ. Süleyman Karaçöl, another Bylock user involved in the Selam Tevhid case, was the judge who ordered the arrests in the Dec. 25 probe. Celal Kara, another prosecutor among the Bylock users, was in charge of another case culminated in an operation targeting the sons of ministers on Dec. 17, 2013. Both cases are commonly recognized as disguised coup attempts. Like Akkaş, Kara remains at large and is believed to be hiding in Germany after he was issued an arrest warrant for his links to the terror cult.
Rüstem Eryılmaz was the judge of an Istanbul court handling a case regarding the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. The murder of Dink, who was shot dead outside his office by an ultra-nationalist teenager in 2007, is viewed as part of a plot by FETÖ to raise tensions in Turkey. Several FETÖ-linked police intelligence chiefs are already on trial for ignoring intelligence concerning the murder plot. Eryılmaz has dismissed the accusations that the murder was the work of “an organization” rather than an individual action of the murderer, Ogün Samast. Eryılmaz was arrested for links to the terrorist group.
Mehmet Hamzaçebi, another Bylock user, was one of the judges in the Poyrazköy case which started with the discovery of a stash of arms in a titular Istanbul district and implicated what prosecutors called a secret circle of senior military officers running “a junta” within the army and planned a string of murders to seize power. It later turned out to be a conspiracy to imprison accused officers who were acquitted of charges two years ago. It is now believed that FETÖ intended to imprison or dismiss them from the army and replace them with their infiltrators in the Turkish Armed Forces, especially after the July 15 coup attempt was tied to pro-FETÖ military officers.
Sadrettin Sarıkaya, who fled abroad after an arrest warrant was issued, is also among the Bylock users. In an unprecedented move, Sarıkaya summoned MİT chief Hakan Fidan for a testimony a few years ago, apparently for his arrest in a controversial case. Fidan did not heed the call.
Metin Özçelik and Murat Başer, two judges among the Bylock users, attempted to release a number of FETÖ-linked police officers in a controversial verdict. They were jailed after it was revealed they acted against the law while drafting a secret verdict for their release.
Other Bylock users cited in the report presented to the Supreme Court of Appeals include Cihan Kansız, a top prosecutor who was behind the infamous Ergenekon case where hundreds of dignitaries were arrested for membership of a titular gang which was, like Selam Tevhid, an imaginary group created by FETÖ-linked prosecutors and police officers to imprison the terror cult’s critics on forged evidence and trumped-up charges. Kansız was also assigned to the December 2013 “graft” cases. Similarly, Mehmet Ekinci was the judge handling another FETÖ-linked case where the executives of a renowned football club were imprisoned after a sham trial on charges of match-fixing.
FETÖ, which posed as a religious group, is implicated in a string of cases, ranging from illegal wiretapping to the recent coup attempt. Most of its senior leaders remain at large and abroad, including its leader Fetullah Gülen who lives in a Pennsylvania retreat while he faces multiple life sentences in trials in Turkey.