Turkish police on Monday detained 70 people including former military officers in three separate operations targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The faith-based movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The suspects, who were detained as part of operations in the western province of İzmir, central province of Konya and southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, are accused of continuing involvement in the movement’s activities, having contact with Gülen-linked military officers and using the ByLock messaging app. ByLock, once widely available online, has been considered by the Turkish government to be a tool of secret communication among supporters of the movement since the failed coup in 2016 despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch.
Since the coup attempt, followers of the Gülen movement have been subjected to a massive crackdown, with the Turkish government and pro-government media outlets demonizing its members.
According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu last month, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.