Mystery Twitter leaker of raids has Turkey guessing

Istanbul (AFP) - He has access to top secret information, has been able to stay one step ahead of the authorities and is nearly always right.

Who is Fuat Avni, the mystery Turkish Twitter user who once again correctly predicted Sunday's raids against critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan days before they took place?

The controversial swoop on media allied to exiled US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen -- who Erdogan blamed for orchestrating a corruption probe to unseat him -- was just the latest in over half a dozen such raids since the summer.

On each and every occasion, the raids have been correctly predicted by Fuat Avni before they took place, allowing the suspects to brace themselves for their arrest.

But no one has a firm idea of who Fuat Avni is and from where he obtains his information, leaving Turkey abuzz with rumours over the user's real identity.

Fuat Avni sent a message to his 650,000 followers from @fuatavnifuat on Thursday, warning that police were set to detain some 400 people, including 147 journalists in the imminent raids.

"Tomorrow there will be an operation!" he tweeted, sharing a link to a website that named journalists -- all working for media seen as critical of Erdogan -- that would be targetted in the raids.

Avni said reaction to his tweets forced the government to delay the raids for two days and reduce the number of journalists they were planning to arrest.

Over two dozen people, including top media figures and others, were eventually detained in Sunday's raids.

Fuat Avni claimed the operation was in revenge for last year's corruption probe launched almost exactly a year ago against members of Erdogan's inner circle and that the next target would be those in the "mainstream media" seen as critical of the government.

- 'The king is naked!' -

Government officials take his tweets seriously.

"This is very serious and we need to consider it. I found the tweets to be a bit dangerous, as well," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said of rumours voiced by Avni.

"I hope that this does not turn out to be real or at least that it does not occur at this scale," he said before the swoop.

The government had repeatedly moved to shut down Fuat Avni's Twitter account but the user continued tweeting under new handles.

Some say Avni is one of Erdogan's close aides, while others believe he is an intelligence officer or even a CIA agent who wants to "stir up" the country.

Some think he is a pro-Gulen journalist with good contacts. There have even been somewhat fanciful suggestions he is a member of Erdogan's own family, such as his wife Emine, who accompanies the president at all times.

He occasionally tweets nuggets of gossip about Erdogan's private life, such as what he had for dinner, how he had trouble sleeping one night or what he would wear the next day -- which has proved accurate from time to time.

In a "Twitter interview" with American news website Vocativ in July, Avni denied any links to Gulen and said his sole aim was to reveal the "dirty doings" of the government and "continue to do so until it collapsed".

He has a unique style that followers say aims to evoke suspense, give them hope that the collapse of the government is imminent and instil "fear" in Erdogan, whom he always calls a "tyrant".

"Neither sulk, be pessimistic nor be hopeless, my beautiful people. These are traps of a collapsing fake dynasty," Fuat Avni, who says his alias means "a helping heart", wrote on Sunday.

"The king is naked! You're naked but not a king. You're a tyrant!" another tweet wrote, referring to Erdogan.