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2 defendants get life sentences for operating whistleblower Fuat Avni account

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A Turkish court on Monday handed down life sentences to two defendants standing trial on charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order for being among the operators of an anonymous whistleblower account that provided inside information from within President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inner circle, the Demirören news agency reported.

The Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court handed down the sentences to Mustafa Koçyiğit, a former specialist at the prime ministry, and Bülent Günay, a former employee at the Security General Directorate, on the grounds that they were among the operators of the anonymous whistleblower’s account, known as Fuat Avni.

The well-known Twitter user provided information on corruption in the government as well as unlawful actions by authorities and was followed by as many as 3 million people. Fuat Avni claimed to be in the inner circle of President Erdoğan. He also predicted the government’s crackdown on opposition media outlets as well as revealing lists of journalists to be arrested.

The account tweeted its first message on April 18, 2014 and its last on July 20, 2016 shortly after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Koçyiğit and Günay were also given a 25-year sentence each on charges of revealing secret information for purposes of espionage.

In 2019, Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into a number of Turkish news websites including T24 and Diken for reporting on the tweets of Fuat Avni. The investigation was launched based on Article 220 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which concerns deliberately aiding and abetting a terrorist organization despite not being a member of it.

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