Turkey Seeks Life Sentence for Ex-Military Chief

Posted February 2nd, 2012 at 3:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkish prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for a former army chief in an alleged plot to topple the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

General Ilker Basbug has been jailed since January 6, when he was arrested as a suspect in an alleged Internet campaign aimed at destabilizing Mr. Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government. Prosecutors also accuse the retired general of leading a terrorist group.

Basbug was military chief of staff from 2008 to 2010. He is the most senior officer to be charged in alleged plots against Mr. Erdogan's government.

The case focuses on anti-government propaganda published on websites the military was accused of running that were linked to an alleged secularist network known as Ergenekon.

Turkish authorities have detained more than 300 people, including journalists, academics and politicians, as part of a wide-reaching investigation of Ergenekon. The case has highlighted international concerns about press freedom in Turkey.

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.