The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul issued arrest warrants for 35 suspects linked to the Gülenist Terrorist Group's (FETÖ) media network yesterday, out of which nine have been carried out so far, according to a judicial source.
The suspects were accused of using the ByLock mobile app that was allegedly exclusively used by FETÖ members.
The ByLock smartphone app is believed to have been cracked by Turkish security agencies, allowing them to identify tens of thousands of suspected FETÖ supporters.
Operations remain ongoing to apprehend the remaining suspects. Media outlets said among the detained was Ahmet Sağırlı, a former employee of Türkiye newspaper, Ömer Faruk Aydemir, a former employee of the private İhlas News Agency and BirGün newspaper editor Burak Ekici as well as a number of now-defunct media outlets linked to FETÖ.
Since December 2013, when FETÖ emerged as the perpetrator of two coup attempts against the government, the group has been regarded as a security threat. Prosecutors are claiming that the group's infiltrators in law enforcement, judiciary, bureaucracy and the military, had waged a long-running campaign to topple the government.
In March, 29 defendants went before an Istanbul court for FETÖ's influence in the media, including Atilla Taş, a former pop singer turned columnist. They face prison terms of up to 22 years on charges of membership of a terrorist group, and aiding and abetting a terrorist group.
The terrorist group, which faces a new barrage of trials after the July 15 coup attempt, its latest bid to seize power through its infiltrators, is accused of running media outlets to vindicate its actions and orchestrating defamation campaigns against the group's critics.
The terrorist group once wielded considerable clout in the media where it ran a broadcaster. The group owned several TV stations, a publisher behind newspapers and magazines that disseminated the group's propaganda and several radio stations.
Most were closed down as part of the crackdown on FETÖ and were handed to trustees as the legal process against FETÖ members got underway. The media was key for Fetullah Gülen, the U.S.-based leader of the terrorist group, to spread his messages to his followers.
Gülen, who faces extradition from the U.S., is already implicated in a string of criminal cases from the coup attempt carried out by his followers in the army, to sham trials against his critics.