Court Remands Turkish Journalist In Prison for Using Encrypted App

A Turkish court has ruled to remand journalist Aysenur Parildak in prison on charges of being “a member of an armed terrorist organization,” prolonging her already 15-month pre-trial arrest.

The 14th Ankara High Criminal decided on Thursday to keep Ms.¬†Parildak in prison over the use of ByLock, an encrypted app, and rejected demand of lawyer for Ms. Parildak’s release, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Ms. Parildak, a former reporter for now-defunct Zaman newspaper, has been held in prison for 15 months. She was arrested in the aftermath of the failed coup last summer over a dozen of other journalists in one of the largest crackdown on media members in one single operation.

The prosecutor offered his assessment during the court hearing on Thursday and pressed for keeping the young journalist, who suffered sexual assault and solitary confinement during pre-trial detention in police custody last year, in prison.

After deliberations over the prosecution’s theory and approach, the judges heeded Prosecutor Mustafa Manga’s call and ruled continuation of Ms. Parildak’s imprisonment.

She faces charges of membership of an armed terrorist organization and faces 14 years in prison if convicted. During a June hearing this summer, the court first ruled for her release, but immediately reversed its decision after pressure from pro-government media outlets.

Her lawyer cited lack of evidence and the weakness of the prosecution’s argument to keep the journalist in jail. Still, the court ignored the defense and accepted use of an encrypted smartphone app as proof enough to keep Ms. Parildak, who received an award for journalism from an institution in Norway, in prison.

Tens of thousands of public workers have been sacked in government purge over the alleged use of “ByLock,” and the majority of them ended up in jail. Turkish police also arrested many¬†journalists for using the app.

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