Turkish colonel arrested over suspected coup plot

Reuters News
Posted: May 19, 2012 5:23 PM
Turkish colonel arrested over suspected coup plot

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A colonel in the Turkish army was arrested on Saturday in connection with a suspected conspiracy to destabilize the government by staging attacks against ethnic minorities, Sabah newspaper said on its website.

The arrest was the latest in a long-running investigation of what prosecutors say was a plot hatched by members of the military to attack and kill Christians and other minorities and blame Islamists in order to discredit the government.

Col. Levent Gulmen was arrested in the seaside town of Foca while attending ceremonies marking a national holiday, the newspaper said.

He had been detained once before and released, in 2010, Sabah quoted his lawyer as saying. The lawyer, Murat Ergun, called Saturday's detention a "bureaucratic mistake."

Media reports about the so-called Cage Action Plan first surfaced in late 2009.

The plot is linked to the wider Ergenekon probe, in which hundreds of retired and serving members of the military, academics, journalists and lawyers have been detained on suspicion of being part of several conspiracies to push Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Erdogan's AK Party, which has Islamist roots, has been elected three times since 2002.

The trials have reined in the influence of the military, which had appointed itself guardian of Turkish secularism and ousted four governments since 1960. Critics say the probes have been used to silence Erdogan's political opponents.

(Writing By Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)