More academics, teachers, police officers detained over ByLock use

Dozens of academics, teachers and police officers have been detained by police across Turkey on Wednesday as part of orchestrated witch hunt campaign targeting alleged followers of the Gülen movement allegedly for their use of ByLock, a smart phone application.

Thirteen academics from the Erciyes University were detained in an operation in the central province of Kayseri on Wednesday. The detainees are accused of using the ByLock smart phone application, which according to prosecutors, is the top communication tool among the alleged members of the Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

Meanwhile, 27 teachers out 29 against whom detention warrants were issued in Kahramanmaraş province were detained on Tuesday as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement. While 27 of the suspects have been detained so far, police have yet to locate the remaining two who had earlier been dismissed from their positions.

Also, 27 police officers were detained as part of an Adana-based investigation into the Gülen movement. The detainees include three police chiefs and were accused of having used ByLock, according to Turkish media.

Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt last July. Critics, however, have blasted the government for detaining thousands simply for using a mobile application. According to them the use of a technological application is not a criminal activity nor is it evidence of membership in a terrorist organization.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

In a currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, 89,775 people were being held without charge, with an additional 43,885 in pre-trial detention. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors, musicians, artists and even a comedian.

Feb. 15, 2017

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