Detention warrants were issued on Friday for 44 people by the Ordu Public Prosecutor’s Office on accusations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
According to the report, police detained 32 of the 44 people in Ordu province as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of mounting a coup attempt last year. The movement strongly denies any involvement.
Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement.
Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and homemakers, 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 last month that 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 constituting strong evidence of terrorist organization membership.
The Guardian last month reported on a study commissioned by opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan which argues that the arrest of 75,000 suspects primarily because they downloaded the ByLock app was arbitrary and illegal.
“The evidence that the [ByLock] app was used exclusively by those who were members or supporters of the Gülen movement [is] utterly unconvincing and unsupported by any evidence,” the two barristers conducting the study said, according to the Guardian.”
Most recently, Dutch cyber security firm Fox-IT 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.