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Turkey arrests man behind ByLock app linked to 2016 failed coup

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By Euronews with AP, AFP
Turkish authorities say the ByLock app was used by members behind the failed 2016 coup.
Turkish authorities say the ByLock app was used by members behind the failed 2016 coup.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Selcuk Samiloglu, FILE
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A Turkish-born US citizen has reportedly surrendered to police over his ties to a secret messaging app linked to Turkey’s failed 2016 military coup.

David Keynes, the alleged license holder for the encrypted ByLock app, turned himself in to the authorities, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Wednesday.

Keynes had been wanted by Turkey and was taken to police custody after arriving at Istanbul's airport last month, the agency said.

Turkish authorities say the ByLock app was used by members of the network led by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating the coup.

The application has been used as evidence in Turkish courts against alleged perpetrators of the failed putsch and is banned in several Middle Eastern countries.

Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who lives in Pennsylvania, denies involvement in the coup attempt.

At least 251 people were killed and around 2,200 others were wounded on the night of 15 July 2016, when factions within the Turkish military used tanks, warplanes, and helicopters to try and overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Following the attempted coup, Turkey launched a relentless crackdown on suspected Gülen supporters and the pro-Kurdish opposition, which has led to the arrests of more than 300,000 people.

Keynes’ surrender came months after his lawyers said that he wanted to cooperate with Ankara under a "repentance law" that grants offenders more lenient punishments.

The Anadolu agency said Keynes -- known in Turkey as Alpaslan Demir -- has since been charged with membership of a terror organisation and faces a maximum 15-year prison term. No trial date has been set.