Turkey: Lawyer Esra Uymaz Saral released | Update

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada welcomes the release of lawyer Esra Uymaz Saral on 13 February 2020 at her first hearing of charges related to an attempted coup in 2016. Ms. Saral sent a message to LRWC saying, “We can’t thank you enough for your support and solidarity.” Ms. Saral was ordered into pre-trial detention on 10 January 2020 despite the fact that she was pregnant with a high risk of miscarriage.

LRWC had sent a letter on 21 January 2020 calling for the immediate release of Esra Uymaz Saral and two other women lawyers, Ozge Elif Hendekc, and Büşra Cinkara.

Ms. Saral was arrested and charged based on an allegation that she had had a messaging application, ByLock, on her mobile phone. In 2017, the Turkish courts had ruled that having the app, which was widely available to anyone, was sufficient proof that someone was a member of the Gulen movement which Turkish authorities suspected of masterminding the 2016 attempted coup.

Thousands of people have been arrested and prosecuted on a variety of overbroad charges based on allegations of some connection with ByLock, which is now long defunct. LRWC’s letter pointed out that since then the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have both concluded that detentions, arrests, and convictions based on the alleged or established use of the ByLock mobile phone messaging application violate Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Conviction or detention on these grounds is, therefore, unlawful.