U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara has become a Twitter sensation with users in Turkey.
Bharara is the prosecutor behind the U.S. case filed against Iranian-Turkish national Reza Zarrab, also known as Riza Sarraf, on charges of engaging in transactions on behalf of the Iranian government against now suspended U.S. and international sanctions against Tehran.
The FBI arrested Zarrab last Sunday at Miami airport and he is still in custody.
Reza Zarrab was a key figure in a corruption case in 2013 that caused a scandal in the Turkish government. He was accused of bribing members of the cabinet. The case triggered a backlash from the government and led to a huge crackdown on judges, prosecutors and law enforcement. The charges against Zarrab were later dropped.
The number of Preet Bharara’s Twitter followers has grown massively from around 8,000 to more than 200,000 since he announced Tuesday that Zarrab was arrested with a tweet saying “Reza Zarrab to soon face American justice in a Manhattan courtroom.”
Bharara’s list of followers immediately filled up with Turkish Twitter users replying to his tweet with offerings of thanks, congratulations and gifts, mainly Turkish food.
Some Turkish users said the announcement made them believe in justice again, while others offered help prosecuting the case.
After thousands of retweets and replies, Bharara responded with a tweet of his own, admitting “Well, I do love shish kebab but I don’t think I can accept gifts just for doing my job.”
Reza Zarrab’s first bail hearing took place in Miami Tuesday. Bail was denied.
His next court appearance is scheduled for April 4 and he is expected to request bail again. Zarrab will later be transported to Manhattan federal court to face the charges against him.