Amid a non-stop witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, detention warrants were issued on Thursday for 121 Turkish diplomats who were dismissed following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, as part of investigations into the movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
According to the report, police launched operations to detain 121 former diplomats in 30 provinces on accusations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock.
Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Jan. 6 announced that a total of 408 ministry personnel, 350 of whom are diplomats, have been dismissed from his ministry over alleged links to the Gülen movement since a failed coup attempt on July 15.
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.
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.