The İzmir Chief Pubic Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday issued detention warrants for 53 people over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
According to the report 26 of 53 people were detained by police in 23 provinces across Turkey. Suspects are accused of using a smart phone application known as ByLock.
Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, a claim the movement denies.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Dec. 27, 2017 stated that 11,480 GSM users were found to have been involuntarily directed to ByLock.
Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and homemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since July 15, 2016.
A total of 62,895 people were detained in 2017 as part of investigations into the Gülen movement, according to Interior Ministry reports.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Jan. 5 said 48,305 people were jailed in 2017 alone over movement links.
Soylu said on Dec. 12 that 55,665 people have been jailed and 234,419 passports have been revoked as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the failed coup.
Soylu on Nov. 16 had said eight holdings and 1,020 companies were seized as part of operations against the movement.
The Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 169,013 people 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 other civil servants since July 15, 2016 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency declared after the coup attempt.