Erdoğan challenges Turkey’s most wanted whistleblower

Erdoğan challenges Turkey’s most wanted whistleblower

Erdoğan challenges Turkey’s most wanted whistleblower Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has directly challenged an anti-government social media whistleblower for the first time, albeit by mentioning neither his real name nor Twitter handle.

"If you are a man, come out, why do you do this secretly?" Erdoğan asked during a breakfast organized by the governorate of the eastern Turkish province of Malatya on Feb. 21, referring to Fuat Avni, who has revealed the details of a number of police and judicial operations before they happened by using a strong language criticizing the government.

Three pro-government newspapers in Turkey claimed on their front pages on Feb. 16 that columnist Emre Uslu, who is also a former policeman, is behind the mysterious account, which they described as "the mole of the parallel structure."

The government refers to the bureaucrat followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the ally-turned-nemesis of the Turkish government, as the parallel structure, since its coalition with the movement collapsed and turned into an open war after the massive corruption investigations allegedly launched by Gülenist prosecutors and police officials in December 2013. 

Uslu had rejected the claim that he was Fuat Avni, who keeps opening new Twitter accounts with similar handles, as soon as the older account is blocked. Most recently, an Ankara court had blocked Fuat Avni's Twitter and Facebook accounts last month.

"You cannot deter us. If you have the courage, don't use an alias. But you are the member of a terrorist organization, so you use an alias," Erdoğan added Feb. 21, repeating that he and his family received death threats.

"But I started this march by wearing a shroud," Turkish President said.

The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation into claims about an assassination plot targeting Erdoğan's daughter, pro-government newspapers reported Feb. 20. Sümeyye Erdoğan are among the names that are speculated to run from the list of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the general elections scheduled for June.

Prosecutor lists Gülen as 'prime suspect'

Meanwhile, the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office listed Fethullah Gülen as "the prime suspect" among a total of 80 suspects, including Emre Uslu, in the criminal notice regarding the Feb. 12-14 operation in which 17 police officials were arrested in 12 provinces for espionage. The notice mentions both the term "parallel state structure" (PDY), as well as "Fethullahist Terror Organization" (FETÖ), according to Anadolu Agency.

Like with many police raids in the recent past, Fuat Avni had also leaked the latest operation hours before it happened.

"A man does not hide behind his daughter. If you are a man, come out," Fuat Avni responded to Erdoğan's challenge on Feb. 21 with a message that was retweeted by thousands of people in minutes.