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Turkish police arrest 30 more over alleged coup plot

[JURIST] Turkish police on Thursday arrested approximately 30 more people, including eight army officers, nine policemen, and a union leader, in an investigation of an alleged plot to overthrow the government [JURIST news archive] of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website]. The latest arrests [Al Jazeera report] included journalist Unal Inanc, political polling analyst Erhan Goksel, Turkish Metal Union Chairman Mustafa Ozbek and several other union officials, and numerous members of a police special operations unit whose leader was arrested earlier this month [BBC report]. Police are reportedly continuing to search additional suspects' homes and businesses, including television station ART. Also Thursday, Turkish prosecutors announced an investigation [Hurriyet report] into a program televised on the state-run TRT-2, which included interviews with a witness in the Ergenekon [BBC backgrounder] group case. The group is allegedly responsible for bombing the headquarters of the newspaper Cumhuriyet [media website, in Turkish], assassinating Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink [BBC obituary], and planning other attacks to provoke a military coup to topple the AKP.

Thursday marked the third wave of arrests connected to the alleged plot this month, with approximately 40 arrested January 7 and 12 more on January 11 [JURIST reports]. There are currently more than 100 suspects in custody, including journalists, academics, and Turkish Workers' Party [party website, in Turkish] leader Dogu Perincek [JURIST report]. All were outspoken opponents of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile], whose AKP party narrowly escaped a ban [JURIST report] last year for purportedly undermining the country's secular principles. In October, the High Criminal Court in Istanbul began the trial [JURIST report] of 86 defendants in the coup investigation. The accused are said to belong to the secular Ergenekon group, which critics allege has been improperly investigated by the AKP as part of a drive to impose Islamic principles [Haaretz report] on the country in violation of the its secular constitution [text].

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