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Turkish Colonel Jailed Over Suspected Antigovernment Plot


The investigation has stoked tensions between the army and the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The investigation has stoked tensions between the army and the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court has jailed a senior military officer on suspicion of involvement in an alleged army plan to discredit the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development (AK) party, the state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

The investigation has stoked tensions between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and the secularist military in the predominantly Muslim, European Union-candidate country.

An Istanbul court ordered the arrest and detention of Colonel Dursun Cicek on the evening of November 11 on suspicion of "membership in a terrorist group."

According to media reports, Cicek is regarded as the author of the suspected plan targeting the government. He has denied the charge.

Cicek had been detained previously over suspected links to a separate plot to overthrow the government by a shadowy, nationalist group known as "Ergenekon." A trial into that alleged coup plot is ongoing.

Army suspicions that Erdogan's AK party has a hidden Islamist agenda and aims to undermine the country's staunch secular order have repeatedly triggered political strains in recent years, unsettling financial markets.

AK denies having such an agenda.

The plot to discredit the government was first unveiled in June by liberal newspaper "Taraf," which said it had obtained a photocopy of a document drafted by Cicek detailing the plan.

The military said the document was a forgery and part of a smear campaign. It opened another investigation after newspapers reported an unnamed officer sent the original document of the suspected plot to a prosecutor.

The military, which has ousted four governments in 50 years, has said it is committed to the rule of law.
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