Detention warrants were issued for 77 people in İstanbul and Muğla provinces on Tuesday on accusations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
According to the report, detention warrants were issued for 57 people by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of the investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement. Police detained 14 of 57 people in operations in six provinces.
In a similar development, detention warrants were issued for 20 people by the Muğla Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of the investigation into the movement. Police detained 12 of 20 people in operations in four provinces.
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.