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Another Turkish witch hunt begins

In Turkey, one alleged crime always leads to a larger conspiracy theory, demonizing and punishing a large group of people.
Zaman editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanli (C), escorted by plainclothes police officers, is cheered on by his colleagues as he leaves the headquarters of Zaman daily newspaper in Istanbul December 14, 2014. Turkish police raided media outlets close to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen on Sunday and detained 23 people nationwide in operations against what President Tayyip Erdogan says is a network conspiring to topple him.    REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS MEDIA TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

On Dec. 14, Turkey woke up to breaking news: Turkish police detained 25 people, including top media figures and police officers, simultaneously raiding addresses in 13 cities across the country. The detainees included Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of Zaman, Turkey’s top-selling newspaper, and Hidayet Karaca, the director of STV, a news channel. What they all had in common was their affiliation with the Fethullah Gulen movement — an Islamic community that once was the best ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but which turned into his worst enemy after the corruption investigations of December 2013.

What made these arrests even more controversial was that they were foretold by the mysterious “Fuat Avni,” a faceless Twitter account that claims to be a hidden deep throat within the top echelons of the Erdogan government. With some 629,000 followers (@fuatavnifuat), this account wrote on Dec. 11, or three days before the arrests, that “the Tyrant” (i.e., Erdogan) has ordered a new crackdown on opposition media and some 150 journalists would be arrested soon. Since then, supportive crowds have been flocking to the building of the daily Zaman, which “Fuat Avni” identified as the main target of the upcoming raid. On Sunday, the warnings turned true, when the police indeed came to Zaman to detain Ekrem Dumanli, in the midst of a large crowd cheering for press freedom.

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