Turkish government detains 24 people in Eskişehir over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish police detained 24 people in Eskişehir province on Thursday over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging program ByLock as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Following the detention warrants issued by Eskişehir Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 26 people, police teams have detained 16 people who are reportedly bureaucrats, teachers, retired public servants, workers and shopkeepers. Police have also detained 8 police officers who were dismissed from their duties by government decree under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Also in Muş province, 20 people were detained by police over their alleged use of ByLock on Thursday. According to a statement by Muş Governor’s Office, there are a non-commissioned military officer, a sergeant, 4 teachers, an imam and a police chief among the detainees.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a member of the Gülen movement and it is seen as the top communication tool among members of the movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the controversial coup attempt.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling 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.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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