Turkish police on Wednesday detained 16 people in Bursa province on accusations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock, the Milliyet daily reported.
According to the report, the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 16 people, including civil servants, businessmen and teachers due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of mounting a botched coup attempt in July 2016.
Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the faith-based Gülen movement.
Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen, and housemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The Supreme Court of Appeals’ Assembly of Criminal Chambers ruled on Tuesday the ByLock smart phone application is to be considered evidence of membership in a terrorist organization following Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül’s remarks on ByLock being strong evidence of terrorist organization membership.
According to the decision, ByLock will be considered evidence in and of itself for prosecution on charges of membership in the Gülen movement.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Bursa provincial branch, Gül said there had already been a decision by the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals in June against users of ByLock.
Implying that the Assembly of Criminal Chambers would uphold the 16th Criminal Chamber’s decision, Gül said, “The Supreme Court of Appeals’ Assembly of Criminal Chambers will now finalize an appellate review [of ByLock].”
In June of this year, the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals said ByLock is a communication network used by Gülen movement followers and that it is sufficient to download the application to be accused of membership in the Gülen movement, which is considered a terrorist organization by the AKP government according to a National Security Council (MGK) decision in May 2016.
Most recently, Dutch cyber security firm Fox-IT, known for providing cyber security solutions to governments, said on Sept. 13 that it had debunked a report by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) on the ByLock smartphone application as it discovered inconsistencies and manipulations.
In a statement on it website, Fox-IT said the quality of the MİT report on ByLock is very low, especially when weighed against the legal consequences of the report, which is the basis of detention for 75,000 Turkish citizens, mainly sympathizers of the Gülen movement.