Turkey’s intel agency determines 53,000 names using ByLock: Report
ANKARAThe National Intelligence Agency (MİT) reportedly sent the names of 53,000 people who have used the smartphone app ByLock to the Social Security Institution (SGK) two weeks ago, paving the way for suspensions of workers in various state institutions. ByLock came to prominence after Turkey’s recent failed coup attempt amid reports that the coup plotters had been using it to communicate.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told journalists last week that “the state has a list of names consisting of 50,000 people.”
The MİT sent the names who were determined after the app’s code was broken, daily Milliyet reported on Aug. 19, citing Prime Ministry and Interior Ministry sources.
The SGK then sent the list of individuals using the app to related public institutions, according to the report.
Administrative processes will be launched regarding personnel using ByLock, followed by judicial processes including detentions and arrests where necessary, officials told Milliyet.
A previous Reuters report had cited a senior official saying Turkish intelligence cracked the app earlier this year and was able to use it to trace tens of thousands of members of the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, believed to be behind the failed takeover.
The Gülenists stopped using the app several months ago after realizing it had been compromised, but the intelligence gathered still made it easier to suspend tens of thousands of teachers, police, soldiers and justice officials in the wake of the failed takeover.
“The ByLock data made it possible for us to map their network - at least a large part of it,” one senior Turkish official said. “What I can say is that a large number of people identified via ByLock were directly involved in the coup attempt.”
The state officials, into whom investigations were launched over suspected ties to what the government calls the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), are being evaluated in four groups in relation to the probe over ByLock, the report also said.
The first group consists of people who supported the attempted seizure of power, including the so-called “brothers, sisters and imams” of the movement and others involved in carrying out recruitment activities.
The second group consists of people whose membership of FETÖ is known. People who refused to testify and who “acted unwillingly” in the struggle against the movement during the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013 corruption cases are being evaluated in this category.
The December 2013 corruption cases exposed massive corruption and targeted figures close to the government, resulting in lasting enmity between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and Gülenists.
The third group included individuals who left the movement after the corruption cases in 2013, who testified against the Gülenists, and who “performed their duties without losing their loyalty to the people and the state.”
The final category consists of personnel who do not have any connections to FETÖ.