Turkish prosecutors on Monday issued arrest warrants for 68 suspects linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which was behind the 2016 defeated coup.
The Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants for 46 suspects in an investigation into the shady group's civilian network. According to a statement by the prosecutor's office, the suspects were all ByLock users, an encrypted messaging app developed and exclusively used by FETÖ members. The statement said 34 of the suspects have been detained so far by security forces.
The Antalya Chief Prosecutor's Office also issued arrest warrants for four FETÖ suspects for using the encrypted messaging app. The prosecutor's office said the suspects were former police officers, and they were already in detention.
In a separate probe, the Samsun Chief Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants for 18 suspects for reportedly being contacted by so-called "covert imams" – senior members of the terrorist organization – via payphones. The suspects included 16 active-duty soldiers and two former military school students. Provincial security forces launched simultaneous operations in 13 provinces for the suspects.
The ByLock investigation was expanded after the coup attempt, and thousands of people accused of using the messaging app for communicating Gülen's messages to subordinates and for pro-terrorism propaganda have been detained or arrested.
Famous for its secretive communication methods, FETÖ has utilized everything from in-game chats on mobile games to encrypted messaging apps to relay information between its members.
Since investigators discovered the group's contact method two years ago, thousands of suspects have been detained in nationwide operations. Security forces have continued to carry out operations on an almost daily basis to bring FETÖ military infiltrators to justice.
Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said Monday over 3,900 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed since the coup attempt.
"The number of judges and prosecutors who have been dismissed since July 15  is 3,926," Gül told the members of Parliament's planning and budget committee and warned that the FETÖ threat did not basically start on the night of July 15 nor did it end on the morning of July 16.
The terrorist group is known for its widespread infiltration of the army, law enforcement, the judiciary and bureaucracy. In December 2013, its members in the police force and courts attempted to topple the government under the guise of a graft probe targeting government officials. It was the first time the terrorist group openly waged war against the government using its infiltrators.
When this failed, they made another attempt on July 15, 2016, employing infiltrators in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to seize power by force. A total of 251 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others were injured in FETÖ's bloodiest attempt to date. What followed was a barrage of investigations against the terrorist group. Turkey lifted the state of emergency imposed after the coup attempt but three years on, operations continue against FETÖ.