Mutlu Özay, a former reporter for the shuttered daily Zaman, was one of 35 journalists and media workers arrested in 2017 as part of what is known as the “Bylock trial” in which their alleged use of an app was cited as evidence of their being members of a terrorist organization.
Istanbul police detained Özay on August 10, 2017, as part of a sweeping purge of suspected followers of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen, according to news reports.
The Turkish government accuses Gülen of maintaining a terrorist organization and "parallel state structure" (FETÖ/PDY, as the government calls it) within Turkey and alleges that it masterminded a failed July 2016 military coup.
Özay’s arrest is part of an investigation into journalists and others who allegedly used the Bylock app, according to press reports. Authorities allege that use of the encrypted messaging app is proof of FETÖ/PDY membership.
Turkey issued arrest warrants for 35 journalists and media workers. Of those, nine were ordered to be jailed pending trial and as of late 2017, two were released under house arrest, according to news reports.
A December 5, 2017, report from the pro-government daily Sabah said an indictment for Özay accused the journalist of using the Bylock app.
Since 2017, CPJ has been unable to review a copy of the indictment, find details of a lawyer representing the journalist or contact details for his relatives or colleagues, to get an update on the case. CPJ has not found reports on the progress of the trial.
CPJ emailed a request for updates on the journalist’s case, the status of any pending trial, and where the journalist is being held to the Turkish Ministry of Justice in late September 2020, but did not receive a reply by the November 15, 2020, deadline to respond.