Detention warrants issued for 52 over Gülen links

The İstanbul and Ankara public prosecutor’s offices have issued detention warrants for 52 people over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

According to the report police detained 10 people as part of an investigation into the Justice Ministry staff branch of the Gülen movement. The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office had issued detention warrants for 13 people, but three are still at large.

In a similar development, the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 39 people on accusations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock.

Turkish authorities claim that ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement.

Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and homemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Freedom House, a US-based independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, listed Turkey in its “Freedom on the Net 2017” as among the countries in which Internet freedoms are restricted the most and said tens of thousands of Turkish citizens have been arbitrarily detained for their alleged use of the encrypted communications app ByLock.

The Supreme Court of Appeals’ Assembly of Criminal Chambers ruled in September that the ByLock smart phone application is to be considered evidence of membership in a terrorist organization following Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül’s remarks that ByLock constituted strong evidence of terrorist organization membership.

The Guardian recently reported on a study commissioned by opponents of Turkish President Erdoğan which argues that the arrest of 75,000 suspects primarily because they downloaded the ByLock app was arbitrary and illegal.

Dutch cyber security firm Fox-IT said on Sept. 13 that it had debunked a report by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) on the ByLock smartphone application as it discovered inconsistencies and manipulations.

In a statement on it website, Fox-IT said the quality of the MİT report on ByLock was very low, especially when weighed against the legal consequences of the report, which is the basis of detention for 75,000 Turkish citizens, mainly sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

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