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19 more military officers arrested over smart phone app use

Nineteen more soldiers from the Turkish Armed Forces were arrested in Antalya on Monday evening on charges of membership in a terrorist organization for using a smart phone application named ByLock.

In addition, 14 of 15 police officers under detention were arrested in Denizli on Monday for allegedly using Bylock. Twelve police officers who had already been suspended from their jobs were also detained in Edirne on the same day for alleged use of ByLock.

ByLock is considered by the government to be an encrypted messaging system between sympathizers of the Gülen movement, which is accused of masterminding a botched coup in Turkey on July 15. Although the government presents ByLock as a secret communication tool, the app was previously available for anyone to purchase at online application stores.

No ByLock dialogues that prove coup plotting have been found despite reports in the pro-government media, including the Hürriyet daily and CNNTürk. The government continues to argue that a special code is required to use ByLock and that it is only distributed by Gülen movement followers, an allegation that has not been proven.

Last week, a report by the European Union’s intelligence-sharing unit, INTCEN, stating that Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen did not order a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, has disturbed the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in Ankara, which has been accusing Gülen of complicity from the first hours of the abortive coup.

Turkey has purged over 130,000 people and imprisoned more than 40,000 over alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. including one-third of its military forces.

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