Turkish police crack down on group suspected of coup plot
Turkish police on Tuesday took into custody two former generals, the head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce and more than a dozen other suspected members of a shadowy group of right-wing nationalists who are accused of plotting to bring down the government, Turkish media reported.
In dawn raids in Ankara, retired generals Hursit Tolon and Sener Eruygur were taken into custody, as was Sinan Aygun, head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, and Mustafa Balbay, the Ankara bureau chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, reported dpa.
Anti-terrorism police searched the houses of the four and also conducted searches of Cumhuriyet newspaper offices in Ankara and the Istanbul and Ankara offices of a pro-secularist non-governmental organization headed by Eruygur.
The Dogan news agency reported that 17 suspected members of a group known as Ergenekon were also taken into custody in Istanbul.
Police operations against the Ergenekon group began in January with the arrest of a retired army general, a number of nationalist lawyers and members of underworld crime groups.
The group represents a strain of extreme nationalism in Turkey which also is staunchly secularist and opposed to the mildly Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Ergenekon gang, described in the Turkish press as a terrorist group, is suspected of having been behind a series of political assassinations and has been accused of carrying out preparations to overthrow the government.
The arrests came on the same day that a prosecutor is to make his first oral presentation to the Constitutional Court seeking to have Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) closed down on charges of attempting to water down Turkey's strict secular laws.