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Thousands Protest Turkish Probe Into Alleged Coup Plot

Thousands of people gathered Saturday in Turkey's capital to protest a probe into an alleged secularist plot to overthrow the country's Islamic-rooted government.

The crowd, which included students and university teachers, waved Turkish flags and showed support for the eight people charged Friday with having links to the plot.

The protest in Ankara took place at the mausoleum of the founder of secular Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Those charged Friday by a Turkish court included Mehmet Haberal, the president and owner of Baskent University in Ankara, as well as three former university presidents.

Haberal was among the more than 20 people arrested Monday as part of a nearly two-year probe into the secular, ultranationalist Ergenekon group. Prosecutors say the group was behind an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Turkish authorities accuse radical secularists of seeking to create chaos in the country to trigger a military coup against the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Opposition parties say the government is detaining its secular critics to silence them.

More than 200 Turkish secularists have been charged since 2007 for alleged links to Ergenekon, including military and police officers, journalists and academics.