Turkish minister denies she divorced husband over ByLock use

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Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya

Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya has denied allegations that she divorced her husband after learning he had downloaded the ByLock app on his cell phone.

Journalists İsmail Küçükkaya and lawyer Fidel Okan tweeted on Monday that a minister from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) divorced her spouse after she found out that he had downloaded the ByLock app. Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating an attempted coup of July 15, 2016, a claim strongly denied by the movement.

Denying the claims of divorcing her husband over ByLock use, Minister Kaya tweeted that “the allegations of some media organs about my husband and I are completely false. I am taking legal action against this smear campaign.”

According to Turkish media, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) found that İlyas Kaya, husband of Minister of Family and Social Policy Kaya, had downloaded the ByLock app to this phone, leading to Minister Kaya divorcing her husband immediately and secretly.

Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and homemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt last July.

The Supreme Court of Appeals’ Assembly of Criminal Chambers ruled last month that the ByLock smart phone application is to be considered evidence of membership in a terrorist organization following Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül’s remarks on ByLock constituting strong evidence of terrorist organization membership.

The Guardian last month reported on a study commissioned by opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan which argues that the arrest of 75,000 suspects primarily because they downloaded the ByLock app was arbitrary and illegal.

Most recently, Dutch cyber security firm Fox-IT said on Sept. 13 that it had debunked a report by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) on the ByLock smartphone application as it discovered inconsistencies and manipulations.

In a statement on it website, Fox-IT said the quality of the MİT report on ByLock is very low, especially when weighed against the legal consequences of the report, which is the basis of detention for 75,000 Turkish citizens, mainly sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

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