Detention warrants have been issued for 50 former and nine current Science, Industry and Technology Ministry staff members over the use of a smart phone application known as ByLock, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.
According to the report, as part of an investigation run by the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office, Turkish police launched operations against suspects in 20 provinces.
Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a member of the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The mobile phone application ByLock is seen as the top communication tool among members of the group.
Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
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.
Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15.