Turkish gov’t detains dozens over alleged ByLock use in Van, Çorum, Kırıkkale provinces

Dozens of people were detained by police teams during operations in Turkey’s Van, Çankırı and Kırıkkale provinces as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Turkish government has detained 22 people in Van province and its districts over their alleged use of smartphone messaging application ByLock on Friday. It was reported that the detainees include police officers, military officers, lawyers, teachers, engineers and a religious official.

Also in Çankırı province, Turkish government has detained 14 people on Saturday following the detention warrants issued by Çankırı Chief Prosecutor’s Office for them over their alleged use of ByLock and alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that the detainees include police officers, teachers and academics who were dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and shopkeepers.

The government has also detained 8 people in Kırıkkale province over their alleged use of ByLock on Saturday. It was learned that  the detentions followed warrants issued by the Kırıkkale Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 12 people over their alleged links to the movement.

In an Antalya-based probe on Saturday 18 people were detained by police teams in 16 provinces of Turkey following the detention warrants issued by Antalya Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 33 people over their alleged use of ByLock. The people were detained in Antalya, İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Mersin, Gaziantep, Konya, Denizli, Kayseri, Aydın, Afyonkarahisar, Yozgat, Burdur, Isparta, Kilis and Uşak provinces.

Meanwhile, 9 out of 23 detained people, who were transferred to the courthouse in Çorum province, were arrested by a local court over their alleged use of ByLock on Saturday. The 23 people including some dismissed public servants were detained in Ankara, İzmir, İstanbul, Samsun, Kayseri, Kahramanmaraş and Konya provinces in a Çorum-based investigation as part of the government’s witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement following the detention warrants issued by the Çorum Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 33 people. The court has reportedly released 14 people on judicial probation.

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 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch AKP government along with Turkey’s autocratic President 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. Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15.

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