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Turkish court issues arrest warrants for seven military officers

A Turkish court on Monday issued arrest warrants for seven generals and admirals accused of creating anti-government websites in 2009. Among those wanted are General Nusret Tasdeler, head of the army's educational command, and General Ismail Pekin, the general staff's intelligence chief. The men are expected to voluntarily turn themselves in [BBC report] to authorities. A number of other senior military officials are currently in detention for a separate investigation of the Balyoz Security Operation Plan (also known as "Operation Sledgehammer") [Taraf report, in Turkish; JURIST news archive], a military plot to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government. Four top military officers resigned last week in protest of the detentions.

The alleged coup plot highlights the continuing power struggle between Turkey's ruling Justice Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish] and the country's secular nationalist establishment, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) [official website, in Turkish]. Turkish police detained more than 40 people in connection with the plot in February 2010 and continued to bring charges against alleged perpetrators, but released three high ranking military officials [JURIST reports] just days later. The "Sledgehammer" plot is similar to the Ergenekon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] conspiracy, in which the secular group is suspected of planning to overthrow [JURIST report] the AKP. The Ergenekon group is also alleged to be involved in bombings, political assassination plots and the death of journalist Hrant Dink [BBC obituary]. The probe into the Ergenekon conspiracy has been criticized as an attempt by the AKP to silence opposition and further its imposition of Islamic principles [DPA report; JURIST report] in violation of Turkey's secular constitution [text]. Trials against the Ergenekon group [JURIST report] opened over two years ago with more than 200 suspects in custody. 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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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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