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Turkish Police Detain Secularists in Coup Investigation

Turkish authorities have detained at least 21 people as part of an investigation into an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government. The latest arrests are part of a long-running investigation. Among those accused include former military officers as well as leading journalists and academics.

All day Monday, Turkish news channels announced the latest arrests in the investigation, which focuses on the secular, ultra-nationalist Ergenekon group that prosecutors say was behind the alleged plot.

Monday's arrests, which took place in 18 cities, started in the early hours of the morning. A university president was among those taken into custody, and a TV station he owns that is strongly critical of the government was raided.

Many other people's homes were searched. Among them, Professor Turkan Saylan, 76, the founder of an association devoted to improving the lives of women and girls. A frail looking Saylan condemned the raid to the country's media.

"We have 29,000 university students and 36,000 school girls on scholarship," she said. "The disks containing their data were taken. Those who use their democratic rights are punished in this country."

The arrests and searches are part of a nearly two year investigation into an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the islamic-rooted government.

More than 200 people have been charged in the probe. Authorities say they have found large weapons caches, which prosecutors claim were part of the conspiracy. Among those currently standing trial are two retired generals along with leading journalists and academics.

But as the waves of arrests continue, including some of the country's most famous government critics, concerns are rising. Both the country's main opposition parties condemned the latest arrests and say the investigation is becoming a witch-hunt against government critics, an allegation the government denies.

Analysts say the Ergenekon case is adding to the deep polarization in the country between supporters and critics of the government. These latest arrests are being welcomed and opposed with equal vigor.