Eight people, including the Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy provincial chairman of Bolu province in northwestern Turkey, have been arrested over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish media reports said on Friday.
CHP deputy provincial chairman in Bolu Turgut Ekici and others are accused of using a smart phone application known as ByLock,which is considered as the top communication tool by the Turkish authorities among followers of the Gülen movement.
Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
In the meantime, a court in Bolu decided to appoint a group of three trustees to the local CHP administration in Bolu due to the arrest of a CHP official on charges of Gülen links.
The military coup attempt killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.
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.
According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.