The Samsun and Zonguldak chief public prosecutor’s offices have issued detention warrants for 31 people as part of a witch-hunt targeting people claimed to have links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of orchestrating a failed coup in Turkey last year, TGRT reported on Monday.
According to the report 17 people were detained in operations in seven provinces as part of a Zonguldak-based operation targeting students, public servants and teachers.
In a similar development, police detained 14 people in Samsun province on accusations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock.
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 Erdoğan 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 its 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.
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 through government decrees issued as part of the state of emergency.