317 soldiers detained after court issues 530 warrants over Gülen links

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Detained Turkish soldiers who allegedly took part in a military coup arrive in a bus at the courthouse in Istanbul on July 20, 2016, following the military coup attempt of July 15. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was today to chair a crunch security meeting in Ankara for the first time since the failed coup, with tens of thousands either detained or sacked from their jobs in a widening purge. / AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC

A total of 317 soldiers were detained on Saturday in police raids across 58 Turkish provinces after an İstanbul court issued detention warrants for 530 members of the military for using a smart phone application known as Bylock, which the government considers an indication of links to the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government argues that Bylock is an encrypted messaging application that sympathizers of the Gülen movement allegedly used to plot a failed coup on July 15. Although thousands of people have been arrested simply for having Bylock on their phones in Turkey’s massive purge, no evidence of coup plotting has been shared with the public. Bylock is said to have been used by Gülen sympathizers, but it was available to everyone in the Apple Store and on Google Play.

Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu reported that some detained soldiers had one dollar bills in their houses, which is also considered “evidence” of coup plotting and involvement with the Gülen movement, according to the authorities. Having dollar bills alone could lead to arrest in Turkey in the post-coup era since the government argues that dollar bills are used for encrypted messages among the movement’s followers.

Turkey’s purge of its military since the botched coup in July has cut its armed forces by a third, according to a report by the Council of Europe, adding that NATO has raised concerns that Turkey’s response to the failed coup has worryingly thinned its forces.

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