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Turkish police arrest 20 more in alleged coup plot

[JURIST] Turkish police on Thursday arrested ten military officers and ten others in connection with an alleged coup plot. The Turkish government linked the arrested men [Hurriyet report] with Ergenekon [BBC backgrounder], a Turkish secular nationalist group that is accused of trying to overthrow Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish]. Turkish police arrested the men nearly simultaneously in sting operations spread across five provinces. The ten military men worked in an Ankara hospital. The Ergenekon probe has been criticized as an attempt by the AKP to silence opposition and further their imposition of Islamic principles [DPA report; JURIST report] in violation of Turkey's secular constitution [text].

In May, the Turkish government merged [JURIST report] a case against a lawyer accused of killing a judge with its case against Ergenekon. Also in May, Turkish police arrested eight others [NYT report], including four professors, in connection with the case. In March, 56 people were arrested in connection with the group [JURIST report], including two former generals. Earlier that month, a Turkish court ordered the arrest [JURIST report] of Cumhuriyet journalist Mustafa Balbay and internet publisher Neriman Aydin for their alleged involvement the coup plot. There are currently more than 100 suspects in custody, with 40 arrested January 7, another 12 arrested January 12, and 30 arrested January 19 [JURIST reports]. The suspects include journalists, academics, army officers, policemen, and Turkish Workers' Party [party website, in Turkish] leader Dogu Perincek [JURIST report].

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