Twenty-one schoolteachers who were claimed to be using ByLock, a smart phone messaging application, were arrested on Monday as part of a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement.
Turkish prosecutors claim that ByLock is the top communication tool among members of the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt. But critics have blasted the government for detaining thousands for using a mobile application.
A Kocaeli court ruled for the arrest of 21 out of 25 teachers who were detained earlier, while the remaining four were released pending trial.
Labor and Social Security Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu told reporters in Bursa on Sept. 14 that the Turkish intelligence agency had determined the identity of nearly half the 180,000 users of ByLock in Turkey.
Opening an account at Bank Asya after the Dec.17 and Dec. 25 corruption operations and using the ByLock applications have been mentioned as the basic criteria for pursuing the witch-hunt against the Gülen movement.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which launched a war against the Gülen movement following the eruption of a corruption scandal in late 2013 in which senior government members were implicated, carried its ongoing crackdown on the movement and its sympathizers to a new level after a failed coup attempt on July 15 which killed 240 people and injured a thousand of others.
Although the movement strongly denies having any role in the corruption probe and the coup attempt, the government accuses it of having masterminded both despite the lack of any tangible evidence.
Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Recep Tayyip 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.
More than 100,000 people have been purged from state bodies, nearly 43,000 detained and 24,000 arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees included journalists, judges, prosecutors, police officers, doctors, court personnel and even a comedian. (Turkey Purge)