Senior Turkish figures detained in Ergenekon probe

Turkish media said the swoop could be linked to a probe into a shadowy ultra-nationalist, hardline secularist group, which has been accused of seeking to engineer a coup against the government.

Senior Turkish figures detained in Ergenekon probe

Turkish police detained two retired generals, a leading businessman and a senior journalist on Tuesday, hours ahead of the first hearing in a case against the ruling AK Party, state news agency Anatolian reported.

Turkish broadcasters said the swoop could be linked to a probe into a shadowy ultra-nationalist, hardline secularist group, known as Ergenekon, which has been accused of seeking to engineer a coup against the government.

Dozens of people had previously been detained for suspected links to the group, including retired army officers. The military has denied any links to the group.

"Ankara police are carrying out operations in line with the order of Istanbul's chief prosecutor. We cannot say at the moment how many were detained and why they were detained," Mevlut Amir, a police spokesman in Ankara, said.

NTV news channel said a total of 24 people were detained in the capital Ankara and Turkey's largest city Istanbul.

The detentions came hours ahead of the hearing in the case in which a chief prosecutor is seeking to have the ruling AK Party shut down for allegedly anit-secular activities. The prosecutor is due to make an oral statement to the Constitutional Court -- another part of Turkey's secularist establishment.

AK Party denies the prosecutor's charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Analysts say the Ergenekon group is part of the shadowy "deep state", code for hardline nationalists in Turkey's security forces and state bureaucracy ready to take the law into their own hands for the sake of their own agenda.

Anatolian said Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) Chairman Sinan Aygun and the former head of the paramilitary gendarmerie forces, Sener Eruygur, were among the detained.

Eruygur is also head of the secularist Kemalist Thought Association, named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Anatolian said another retired senior general Hursit Tolon was also detained, as was journalist Mustafa Balbay, Ankara representative of staunchly secularist newspaper Cumhuriyet,

Turkish broadcasters said that Istanbul chief prosecutor's office ordered the detentions and that police were also searching the Ankara office of Cumhuriyet and the Istanbul office of the Kemalist Thought Association.

Reuters

Last Mod: 01 Temmuz 2008, 13:29
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