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Turkish Media: Detained Secular Activists to be Tried on Terror Charges

Turkish media say police have seized documents indicating a group of secular activists planned a coup to unseat the Islamic-leaning government.

Turkish newspapers said Thursday that authorities uncovered the coup plot during raids on suspected members of hardline secularist network Ergenekon.

They say the suspects planned to stage illegal protests across Turkey on July 7, carry out assassinations and trigger battles with security forces.

Turkish police detained 21 suspected members of the network Tuesday. Opposition groups criticized the arrests, calling them part of a government campaign to intimidate critics. Ruling party official Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat rejected the accusation and said the government is acting according to its obligations.

In another development, Turkey's deputy prime minister defended the ruling AK (Justice and Development) Party in court Thursday against charges that it seeks to undermine the nation's secular system. Prosecutors want the Islamist-rooted party to be banned.

Deputy prime minister Cemil Cicek said he told the Constitutional Court that the charges against his party have no legal merit. He said he urged the judges to make a speedy decision on the case because it is affecting the governance of the country.

Turkey's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, presented his case to the court Tuesday, arguing that the AK party is trying to turn Turkey into an Islamic state. The party denies the accusation.

Yalcinkaya has called for 70 AK party members, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, to be barred from politics.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.