A Turkish court ordered the arrest of Cumhuriyet newspaper journalist Mustafa Balbay March 5 for his alleged involvement in a plot to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Balbay was arrested along with Internet publisher Neriman Aydin as part of the probe into secular group Ergenekon. The Ergenekon probe has been criticized as an attempt by the AKP to silence opposition and further their imposition of Islamic principles in violation of Turkey’s secular constitution.
The arrests of Balbay and Aydin are among many others related to the Ergenekon probe. There are currently more than 100 suspects in custody, with 40 arrested Jan. 7, another 12 arrested Jan. 12, and 30 arrested Jan. 19. The suspects arrested include journalists, academics, army officers, policemen and Turkish Workers’ Party leader Dogu Perincek. These arrests came after the October trial by the High Criminal Court in Istanbul for 86 defendants allegedly involved in the coup plot. (Jurist, March 6)
Despite its lefty-sounding name, the Turkish Workers’ Party appears to have a penchant for unsavory ultra-nationalism. Ergenekon has also been accused of terrorist attacks—although not by the courts, but media speculation.
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