Chief prosecutor’s office to reinvestigate 11,000 accused Gülenists
Turkish prosecutors are to reconsider investigations into 11,480 people accused of membership of the Fethullah Gülen movement after it was revealed they were mistakenly directed to IP addresses used by a mobile messaging application connected to the group blamed for last year’s failed coup, centrist newspaper Hürriyet reported.
A statement by the Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office said the Gülenists, whom the Turkish government calls the Fethullahist Terror Organisation (FETÖ), had deliberately created a series of telephone applications under the name “Mor Beyin” and directed unsuspecting people to the ByLock app against their will in order to hide the real users.
After the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016, the Turkish intelligence agency MİT discovered that the ByLock messaging app had been used as a communication tool by Gülen movement members up until a few months before the coup attempt.
The application was declared proof of membership of a terrorist organisation, and the Turkish government had detained around 75,000 people by the end of September 2017.
Ali Aktaş, a lawyer whose client was arrested on charges of having used ByLock, teamed up with cyber forensics experts and discovered that malware - a term used to refer to a variety of intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spyware - had been utilised in order to give the false appearance that other users were accessing the ByLock programme.
With support from unions, journalists and other groups, Aktaş took the matter to the chief prosecutor in Ankara, who in turn sent the new information to all the courts involved in ByLock cases in order to start proceedings to release those arrested on ByLock charges.
“According to the technical examination carried out at MİT and BTK, it has been found out that some GSM networks, which had connections with the application’s servers, were directed from some other applications such as Mor Beyin, which was also developed by FETÖ members, just before they were linked to ByLock,” the prosecutor’s statement said.
“With the findings of this investigation, the legal status of these GSM users, who were directed to this application without their own knowledge and will, should be evaluated by the investigating authorities according to the other evidences in their investigation files.”