Fifty-four people including civil servants, doctors, workers, businessmen and teachers were detained in an operation in the southern province of Hatay on Sunday, which targeted alleged followers of the faith-based Gülen movement for their use of a smart phone application.
The detainees are accused of using the ByLock smart phone application, which according to prosecutors, is the top communication tool among members of the Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15. Critics, however, have blasted the government for detaining thousands simply for using a mobile application.
Tens of thousands of civil servants have either been dismissed or arrested for using the application. Critics say the use of a technological application is not a criminal activity nor is it evidence of membership in a terrorist organization.
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 government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.