The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday issued detention warrants for 40 people over their suspected use of the ByLock mobile phone messaging app as part of a post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.
According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency, 13 of the 40 people being sought were detained during police operations in 10 provinces.
Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for allegedly using ByLock since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
About 20,000 people had been detained over alleged links to the movement by the end of September 2018.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government pursued a crackdown on the Gülen movement following corruption operations in December 2013 in which the inner circle of the government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan were implicated.
Erdoğan also accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the coup attempt in July 2016.
Despite the movement strongly denying involvement in the failed coup, Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt targeting the group following the abortive putsch.
According to the TurkeyPurge.com website, the total number of people dismissed after the 2016 coup attempt exceeds 170,000.
The European Commission said in a report on April 17 that since the introduction of a now-ended state of emergency on July 20, 2016, over 150,000 people were taken into custody and 78,000 were arrested.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 12, 2017 said 234,419 passports had been revoked as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the failed coup.
On Nov. 16, 2017 Soylu had said eight holdings and 1,020 companies were seized as part of operations against the movement.