Eight people including a former reporter from the now-closed Cihan news agency were detained on Thursday over use of a smart phone application, known as ByLock. The detentions took place across five provinces as part of the Muğla-based operation. Former Muğla provincial representative of the Cihan news agency, K.A., are among the detainees.
Cihan news agency is among the dozens of media outlets, which were closed down in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15 due to their links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of instigating the coup attempt. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the failed putsch.
Turkish authorities consider ByLock as the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.
Turkey is the leading jailer of journalists in the world. The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has documented that 264 journalists are now in jails as of May 27, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 241 are arrested pending trial, only 23 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 105 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey. Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the coup attempt.
The military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com) June 1, 2017