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Terrorism & Security

Turkish prosecutors indict alleged coup plotters

The accusations are stirring tensions between the Islamic government and secular nationalists in military and intellectual circles.

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In recent months, Turkey's media have aired lurid speculation about the alleged coup plot, which hinged on a campaign of violence and protests to provide a pretext for a military intervention. The BBC says that while the speculation may not be well founded, many Turks see the hallmarks of what they call the "deep state" – a shadow government of military and civilian nationalists who see themselves as guardians of the secular state. Some past coups have also involved covert destabilization campaigns to sow chaos and allow military intervention.

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The Christian Science Monitor points out that the recent action taken against Ergenekon is unprecedented.

The Associated Press reports that the military threatened to intervene last year when Gul was nominated for the presidency. As the indictment was announced Monday, a military court prosecutor reportedly demanded to see the documents in the case, suggesting the military wants to mount its own investigation in parallel to the civilian trial. Analysts say that retired generals were unlikely to have sufficient clout to launch a coup without the backing of the military command.

The Turkish daily Hurriyet says that two suspects arrested in the Ergenekon case were released late Monday. A prominent businessman who chairs the Ankara Chamber of Commerce and another man were released on appeal after two weeks in jail, but ordered not to leave the country. However, eight other detained men, including two retired generals, failed to persuade the Istanbul High Criminal Court to free them.

The New York Times says that the arrest of the two retired generals – others are also linked to the case – has stirred debate over the political role of the powerful military. But some Turks see the timing of the coup indictments and the heavy hand of investigators in rounding up suspects as an attempt to intimidate secularists ahead of Constitutional Court hearings against the AKP. Some observers also fear that the AKP, which grew out of a conservative Islamist movement but often espouses moderation, is blurring the boundaries between religion and the state.

A deputy leader of the opposition Republican People's Party said that persistent leaks to the media ahead of Monday's indictment had "manipulated the investigation process," reports the Turkish Daily News. A deputy leader of the ruling AKP denied any interference and said that the judiciary is independent.

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