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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Turkish police arrest dozens over alleged coup plot
Lucas Tanglen at 3:33 PM ET

[JURIST] Turkish police on Wednesday arrested approximately 40 people, including three retired generals, in an investigation of an alleged plot to overthrow the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website]. Police searched [Hurriyet report] the home of the country's former top prosecutor, Sabih Kanadoglu. Police also arrested the former head of the police anti-terror unit, a journalist, and a professor in the continued probe of the Ergenekon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] group, in which dozens of suspects are already on trial. On Thursday, Gen. Ilker Basbug, the army's top officer, met [Hurriyet report] with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] in response to the arrest of the former generals.

In October, the High Criminal Court in Istanbul began the trial [JURIST report] of 86 defendants in the coup investigation. The accused are said to belong to the secular Ergenekon group, believed responsible for bombing the headquarters of the newspaper Cumhuriyet [media website, in Turkish], assassinating Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink [BBC obituary], and planning other attacks to provoke a military coup to topple the AKP. Among those on trial are journalists, intellectuals, and Turkish Workers' Party [party website, in Turkish] leader Dogu Perincek [JURIST report]. Critics allege that the AKP has improperly investigated secular groups as part of a drive to impose Islamic principles [Ha'aretz report] on the country in violation of the its secular constitution.

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