ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish authorities issued detention warrants for 133 people working in the finance and labor ministries, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Thursday, as part of a widening crackdown following last year’s failed coup attempt.
The suspects were detained for allegedly using ByLock, an encrypted messaging app which the government says was used by the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara of orchestrating last July’s abortive putsch.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies involvement.
Anadolu said 101 of the suspects were from the finance ministry and 32 from the labor ministry. It said two of the suspects from each ministry were active workers.
Since then more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial over links to Gulen, while 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the public and private sectors.
Rights groups and some of Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern about the crackdown, fearing the government is using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent.
The government says only such a purge could neutralize the threat represented by Gulen’s network, which it says deeply infiltrated institutions such as the army, schools and courts.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Ece Toksabay and