Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 70 former Finance Ministry staff over alleged ByLock use

Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 70 former staff of Turkish Finance Ministry over their alleged use of smart phone messaging application ByLock in an investigation as part of Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement on Thursday morning.

Following the detention warrants, police teams have launched raids in five provinces to the houses of wanted people who used to be personnel at Turkish Finance Ministry until they were arbitrarly dismissed by the government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Seven former Finance Ministry personnel were also arrested by a local court in Antalya province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday morning. Police teams have detained 8 people.

Meanwhile, in a Konya-based investigation as part of Turkish government’s witch hunt campaign 20 people were detained by police in 7 provinces following the detention warrants issued by Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 38 people over their alleged use of ByLock.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a member of the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The mobile phone application ByLock is seen as the top communication tool among members of the group. 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 survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (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 has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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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