Turkish police detained 12 people in the early hours of Tuesday as part of an operation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement due to their use of a smart phone application and depositing money in a now-closed Gülen-linked bank.
The İzmir Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 15 people on accusations that they deposited money at Bank Asya six years ago and used the ByLock smart phone application, considered by Turkish authorities as signs of membership to the Gülen movement.
ByLock, once widely available online, is believed by the government to be a tool of secret communication among supporters of the movement since a failed coup attempt in 2016 despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch.
Three of the suspects were reported to have fled abroad. The detainees include people who worked at Gülen-linked schools or who provided scholarships to students in need.
The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
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.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.