Dozens of Turkish Generals, Officers Arrested on Ergenekon Suspicions

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Turkish police have detained 17 former generals, 4 active duty admirals, 27 officers and 1 petty officer. The interior minister said they are fullfilling the requests of the judiciary. Meanwhile Gen. Ilker Basbug has delayed a planned visit to Egypt because of the developments.

The detainments are related to the Ergenekon case, which is an investigation into a suspected gang known as Ergenekon that was allegedly plotting to overthrow the ruling government.

According to some reports, the new round of detainments may be linked to the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) plot, an alleged military coup plan against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) written in 2003. The move points to the possibility that the two issues may be linked. The reason for the detainments is still unclear but the Turkish NTV channel has reported that the detainees allegedly have the same signatures as those found on documents related to the Balyoz plan.

Those taken into custody include Navy Cmdr. Ozden Ornek, Brig. Gen. Umit Ozcan, Lt. Gen. Engin Alan, Lt. Gen. Ayhan Taş, Gen. Ergin Saygun and Gen. Ibrahim Firtina. Another 10 colonels were also reportedly detained in the same operation. So far detainments have taken place in Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa and Izmir. All of the detainees are expected to be brought to Istanbul. Seven detained officials were brought to Istanbul from Ankara on the 1:30 p.m. flight.

Turkish police searched the homes of the two retired Army generals early on Monday. The searches were made in the Istanbul houses of Gen. Cetin Dogan and Brig. Gen. Suha Tanyeli. Later on in the day on Monday after the searches Gen. Dogan, who is allegedly the mastermind behind the Balyoz plan, was also taken into custody.

Meanwhile Turkish news channels have reported that searches in locations in Ankara and Turkey are ongoing and include a search of the headquarters of the veteran support group Mehmetcik Foundation.

Turkish military chief Basbug delayed an official visit to Egypt as police detained the retired military officials for suspected involvement in the alleged coup plot, CNNTurk and daily Radikal reported.

Minister of the Interior Besir Atalay told reporters he is following developments very closely and that the detainments are being carried out at the request of the judiciary.

Tensions between the military and the government have been on the rise ever since police began detaining military personnel in the course of alleged coup plot investigations.

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