How a secretive, unknown smartphone app became the center of Turkey’s post-coup crackdown

Hamdullah faithfully served his country in the Turkish Armed Forces for more than two decades before retiring as a specialist sergeant. Needless to say, Hamdullah, who requested we only use his first name, was shocked when he suddenly found himself jailed upon suspicion of being a member of a terrorist organization in April of last year.

The charges were based on an unusual piece of evidence: the apparent presence of the messaging app ByLock on Hamdullah’s phone. In September 2017, Turkish courts ruled that having the app was sufficient proof to link one to a network made up of followers of the controversial Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish national that has lived in Pennsylvania for nearly two decades. The government insists…

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