Smartphone users jailed over prayer app released

Muslim smartphone users in the Turkish city of Antalya arrested after downloading a mobile application that showed them the direction of Mecca have been released pending trial, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

The application had been directing users to an IP used by an encrypted messaging programme called ByLock associated with the Fethullah Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the failed July 2016 military coup attempt. Many people who did not use the ByLock programme were caught up in the police sweep, the newspaper said.

Lawyer Ali Aktaş’s research on the issue revealed that around 11,000 people appeared to be users of ByLock while using “Freezy”, a music application, and the “Qibla Compass” application in August, September and October of 2014.

Aktaş said that various programs prepared by the Gülen movement such as “Freezy”, “Qibla Compass” and “Prayer Times” directed the users’ IP’s with embedded ads to ByLock and whenever these people used these applications, they were reported to Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communication Institution (BTK).