Turkish Prosecutor Calls for Arrest of Retired Armed Forces Chief

Posted January 5th, 2012 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A Turkish prosecutor has called for a former chief of the armed forces to be taken into custody over alleged involvement in a scheme to discredit the government.

Turkish media reported Thursday that the prosecutor has asked for General Ilker Basbug to be arrested. A court is expected to decide within the next day whether to grant the request.

Earlier this week, Turkish media said prosecutors had named Basbug as a suspect in an alleged Internet campaign aimed at destabilizing Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-based government.

Reports say the retired general was called to answer questions in connection with a trial of current and former officers linked to the so-called secularist network, Ergenekon.

Also Thursday, journalists Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik were among 13 defendants who appeared in court to begin their defense case against charges they are linked to Ergenekon. Sener told reporters the real reason he is on trial is because he wrote a book criticizing the government.

Prosecutors say the group plotted in 2003 to bring down the government through bombings and other attacks to discredit the government and trigger a military coup against the ruling Justice and Development Party. Turkey's military ousted four governments between 1960 and 1997.

Turkish authorities have detained more than 300 people including journalists, academics and politicians as part of a wide-reaching investigation into Ergenekon.

The case has highlighted international concerns about press freedom in Turkey.