Turkish media say police have seized documents indicating a group of prominent secular activists planned to initiate an anti-government coup with mass protests and political assassinations.

The Sabah newspaper Thursday said authorities uncovered the plans during an operation targeting suspected members of the hardline secularist network Ergenekon.  It says the documents show the group planned to launch illegal protests and clashes with security forces on July 7.

Police detained 21 suspected members of the network Tuesday.  Officials say the detentions are part of an ongoing police investigation into the group, which is accused of plotting disturbances to trigger an army takeover of the Islamic-leaning government.

Meanwhile, Turkey's deputy prime minister, Cemil Cicek, defended the ruling AK (Justice and Development) party in court against charges that it has tried to undermine secular rule and should be banned.  He presented the party's defense before the Constitutional Court in a closed-door session today.

Turkey's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, has argued the ruling party is trying to turn Turkey into an Islamic state.  He appeared in court Tuesday to present his case.

Yalcinkaya also is calling for about 70 AK party members, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, to be barred from politics.

The European Union has criticized the proposed ban, warning that the case may interfere with Turkey's long-term goals of joining the 27-nation bloc.

Turkish secularists accuse the AK party of attacking Turkey's secular system by trying to ease restrictions on religious symbols such as Islamic headscarves.

Many Turks are suspicious of the AK party's Islamist roots, but recent opinion polls shows 51 percent of respondents also oppose the party's closure.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.