A Turkish court on Jan. 18 handed down life sentences to two defendants on the grounds that they were among the users of the whistleblowing Twitter account “Fuat Avni,” which previously used to release sensitive claims about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's entourage.
The Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court found Mustafa Koçyiğit, a former prime ministry official, and Bülent Günay, a former intelligence official, guilty of “violating the constitutional order,” state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
They also got 25 years in prison for “disclosing state secrets and spying.”
Turkish authorities say that the Fuat Avni account was set up by the Gülen network, which Ankara refers to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
The account was closely followed after it began tweeting in 2014, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was struggling with corruption allegations. The account, which claimed to be a part of Erdoğan’s inner circle, posted tweets that accurately predicted various events before they even occurred.
Koçyiğit and Günay were among a total of 17 defendants in a case concerning the incidents that occurred on the night of the failed July 2016 coup attempt.
The defendants were accused of attempting to take control of the intelligence department and prevent intelligence functions in Turkey on the night of the coup bid.
The court gave prison sentences ranging from 13 to 16 years to seven defendants, while the remaining eight defendants got terms ranging from seven to 10 years.