Turkish minister: 48,000 jailed, 1,028 companies seized over Gülen links

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Turkish Minister of Interior, Süleyman Soylu (Emin Sansar / Anadolu Agency)

Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said 48,739 people had been jailed and eight holdings and 1,020 companies seized as part of operations into the movement, CNN Türk reported.

Speaking at a meeting of the Budget Commission in Parliament on Wednesday, Soylu also said 215,092 people had been listed as using a smart phone application known as ByLock and that 23,171 people have been detained over use of the application so far.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement.

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 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.

Turkish 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 on July 15, 2016.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15 of last year through government decrees issued as part of a state of emergency.

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