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This U.S. Attorney Is Kind Of A Big Deal In Turkey Now

Preet Bharara's Twitter following has absolutely exploded since he arrested a businessman with ties to the president of Turkey.

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Preet Bharara needs to update his business cards. Aside from being the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York — renowned for slaying political dragons — he is now a bona fide Twitter celebrity in Turkey.

That's because Bharara has had the fortitude to prosecute this guy, Reza Zarrab, for money laundering and evading sanctions the United States has in place on Iran.

Ozan Kose / AFP / Getty Images

According to the news release Bharara's office sent out on Tuesday, Zarrab and two others were indicted for "engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of transactions on behalf of the Government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by United States sanctions, laundering the proceeds of those illegal transactions, and defrauding several financial institutions by concealing the true nature of these transactions."

So isn't Bharara prosecuting a guy for allegedly doing bad things his job? Well, yeah. Except Bharara's tweet about it had been retweeted more than 22,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.

Reza Zarrab to soon face American justice in a Manhattan courtroom. @SDNYnews https://t.co/5S3c1oaWVO

What could explain this explosion in popularity? The answer lies at the feet of former-Turkish prime minister turned president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Adem Altan / AFP / Getty Images

You see, Zarrab was at the center of a huge scandal in Turkey back in 2013. He was accused of bribing members of Erdogan's cabinet into looking the other way in yet another scheme involving money laundering and dodging Iran sanctions.

But, as Hurriyet reports, the charges against Zarrab were dropped after the prosecutors on the case were accused by Erdogan and the ruling party of "plotting against the government" and removed from their posts.

So now, Turkish Twitter users have taken a shine to Bharara. Over the course of the last 48 hours, Bharara's Twitter following has absolutely exploded. He went from just 11,000 followers to more than 213,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

Should Bharara ever travel to Turkey, the world would be his oyster, with his new fans offering him everything from Turkish coffee to raki to carpets.

@PreetBharara Eline sağlık, rakıya bekleriz <3

But it would seem — befitting a man who's made his career going after corrupt politicians — Preet Bharara cannot be bought.

Well, I do love shish kebab but I don't think I can accept gifts just for doing my job... https://t.co/iUw6yRVZPF

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

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