Turkey has detected 92,702 ByLock users: minister

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Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Tuesday said officials have detected 92,702 users of ByLock, a smartphone application that Turkish authorities believe was used among Gülen movement followers, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Soylu was speaking an international conference on cybercrime in Ankara.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in 2016, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

Since then thousands of people have been detained over Gülen links, accused of using the ByLock application.

On Tuesday, the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 19 people over the Gülen links based on allegations that they were ByLock users. Police detained 9 of them.

However there is ambiguity surrounding how officials have detected users as the only source for the list of so-called users is Turkey’s intelligence agency.

Another problem involves the number of users, which has differed in various official statements since the coup attempt.

In December 2017 several lawyers convinced the authorities that a large number of people on the “users list” actually did not use the application at all and as a result, 11,480 people were removed from the list.

Some of them were acquitted by the courts in view of the error.

In October, the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that detention, arrest and conviction based on ByLock use in Turkey violated of Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The working group examined an application submitted by Mestan Yayman, a former vice governor of Antalya province who was dismissed by a government decree on Aug. 29, 2016 due to Gülen links.

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