Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has determined the names of 215,000 people who downloaded the Bylock smart phone application to their mobile phones, giving the list to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office so those individuals can be investigated due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, according to a story in the Habertürk daily on Thursday.
Turkish authorities believe ByLock is the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.
According to Habertürk, police teams discovered that the 215,000 users sent 18 million messages using ByLock and that 78,165 voice calls were made using the application.
Meanwhile, 29 people who worked for the alleged Gülen movement affiliated schools and university preparation courses which were closed by a government decree just after the failed coup on July 15, 2016, were detained in Tarsus district of Turkey’s south province of Mersin over their alleged links with Gülen movement. Majority of the detainees are teachers.
On Thursday, also, an İstanbul court decided to release businessman Ömer Faruk Kavurmacı, the son-in-law of İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, who was jailed last September due to his alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.
Kavurmacı, who was arrested as part of an operation against the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), affiliated with the Gülen movement, was released for reasons of health.
An indictment prepared by an İstanbul prosecutor that became public on Wednesday for 83 businessmen including Kavurmacı, who are all members of TUSKON, seeks a jail sentence of from seven-and-a-half years up to 15 years on charges of membership in an armed terror organization.
After the indictment became public, Kavurmacı’s lawyers asked for the release of their client from the court, citing health reasons. The court accepted their request.
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 Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.
Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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 statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt, while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention. (SCF wih turkishminute.com) May 4, 2017