Gülenist Twitter staff at center of debate over anti-Turkey stance
by Sena Alkan
ISTANBULApr 06, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Sena Alkan
Apr 06, 2015 12:00 am
İbrahim Okuyucu, who is allegedly affiliated with the Gülen Movement, works for Twitter at its headquarters and is allegedly using his position to protect members of the movement who are accused of attempting to overthrow the government. Recently, Twitter closed some anti-Gülen accounts
According to the Turkish daily Akşam, İbrahim Okuyucu, a Turkish engineer at Twitter who is claimed to have ties with the Gülen Movement, which has been accused of infiltrating key state institutions to allegedly topple the Turkish government, is using his position to protect Gülenist Twitter figure @fuatavni and many other accounts affiliated with the movement.
A controversial Twitter figure under the name Fuat Avni, which is known to be a fabricated account affiliated with and used by the Gülen Movement to allegedly break exclusive information, shares predictions that come true from time to time.
In an interview with the Gülen Movement-owned English-language daily Today's Zaman, Okuyucu said on January 19 that Twitter does not share user information with governments due to its support of the freedom of expression. Okuyucu is also reportedly in direct contact with the user behind the @fuatavni account over Twitter since they send tweets to each other.
Saim Orhan, a TV host at the Gülen Movement-affiliated channel Samanyolu TV, also paid a visit to Twitter's headquarter in San Francisco and was hosted by Okuyucu, Akşam daily claimed.
Okuyucu, who allegedly has ties with the Gülen Movement, has headed a department in charge of growth at Twitter's headquarter in San Francisco since 2013.
The @fuatavni Twitter account is believed to be controlled by Gülenist journalist Emre Uslu and the account came under the microscope when allegations of an assassination plot against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan were unveiled in alleged texting between main opposition Republican's People Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Umut Oran and the notorious @fuatavni Twitter account.
Another report the @fuatavni account was involved in was when some Turkish dailies claimed that Avni had reportedly said that the movement has the sex tapes of 45 CHP deputies and they were all being stored by Fethullah Gülen himself, in one of the Twitter conversations with a police officer allegedly connected to the movement.
In another alleged private message, Avni told Oran that the movement is wiretapping Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and it will publish recordings to achieve electoral success for the CHP. Oran denied the allegations and said he did not have a conversation with the movement's anonymous Twitter user. The claims led to a crisis in the CHP, which has been accused of collaborating with the movement during the last local and presidential elections to end Erdoğan's leadership.
The Gülen Movement is a transnational movement led by the U.S.-based imam Fethullah Gülen who lives in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania. It is accused of wiretapping thousands of people, including government officials and encrypted phones. It has over 140 private schools around the world including in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa. It has been accused of infiltrating state institutions in Turkey and trying to overthrow the government. Government officials have continuously expressed their determination to continue to lawfully fight the Gülen Movement, whose followers are accused of infiltrating state institutions to gain control of state mechanisms and illegal wiretapping, forgery of official documents and spying.
Once close allies, the Gülen Movement and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), parted ways for good in 2014. According to AK Party officials, 2014 was one of the most "stabbed-in-the-back" years in recent history, when the movement's alleged illegal wiretapping and infiltration activities came to light. The seeds of this separation between the movement and the AK Party were sown with the February 7, 2012 operation allegedly carried out by the movement against National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan for holding talks with the PKK in Oslo to end the decades-long conflict with the PKK as part of the reconciliation process. The government's decision to close prep schools, most of which are run by the Gülen Movement, completed the separation and arrest warrants have been issued for Gülen.