Turkey intercepted Gulen followers' encrypted messages: official

Turkey intercepted Gulen followers' encrypted messages: official

Turkey intercepted encrypted messages sent by followers of US-based Fethullah Gulen well before the July 15 coup attempt, giving Ankara names of tens of thousands within the preacher's network, a senior official said on Saturday, AFP news agency reported.

Turkey says Gulen masterminded the failed coup from his compound in Pennsylvania, using followers in Turkey who for years had built up a top-level presence within state institutions. The reclusive preacher denies the charges.

The Turkish official -- speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the informatiom -- said Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) began decrypting messages sent on the app ByLock in May last year.

Almost 40,000 names of Gulen followers, including 600 ranking military personnel, were identified by MIT through the intercepted messages.

The official added that "a large number of people identified via ByLock were directly involved in the coup attempt".

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