January 26, 2008 / 11:00 PM / 11 years ago

Turkish nationalists charged with plotting: report

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish authorities charged on Saturday 13 ultra-nationalists, including retired army officers, with involvement in plans for a violent uprising against the government, Turkish media said.

The court decision followed the arrests of dozens of people this week in a police investigation into a far-right group known as Ergenekon. Turkish media say the group had been plotting a series of bomb attacks and assassinations.

Retired brigadier general Veli Kucuk, retired major Zekeriya Ozturk and lawyer Kemal Kerencsiz were among those facing charges of inciting people to armed revolt, private broadcaster CNN Turk said.

Kerencsiz is well known in Turkey for prosecuting writers and journalists, including Nobel Literature Laureate Orhan Pamuk, under article 301 of the country’s penal code that makes it a crime to insult “Turkishness”.

Officials have declined to comment on the Ergenekon case, which began with the seizure of explosives and weapons at a house in Umraniye, Istanbul, last summer.

Turkish newspapers said this week the group had been planning to kill Pamuk, author of novels such as “Snow” and “My Name is Red”, as well as several Kurdish politicians.

The newspapers also said the group was preparing a series of bomb attacks aimed at fomenting chaos ahead of a coup in 2009 against Turkey’s centre-right government, whose European Union-linked reforms are opposed by the ultra-nationalists.

The Ergenekon group may have been behind the murder last January of Hrant Dink, a prominent Turkish Armenian journalist, outside his office in Istanbul, newspapers have quoted police sources as saying.

Some commentators have seen in the Ergenekon case the workings of a “deep state”, a phrase used to denote ultra-nationalists in the security forces and state bureaucracy who are ready to subvert the law for their own political ends.

Police have been observing Ergenekon, which is named after a valley in Turkish nationalist mythology, for several years and have compiled a 7,000-page dossier on the group and its activities, newspapers say.

Reporting by Gareth Jones; Editing by Elizabeth Piper

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