Turkey jailed former army chief Ilker Basbug in connection with alleged plots to topple the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Basbug was taken to Silivri jail, west of Istanbul, after a court in the city ruled that he should be held pending trial, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.
Basbug’s arrest is the latest expansion of an investigation into plots to overthrow PM Erdogan, whose roots in Islamist movements put him at odds with the secularism of the military. More than 250 officers have been jailed, and legislation to enforce civilian control over the army has weakened an institution that has forced four elected governments from office since 1960.
Basbug testified for seven hours in Istanbul Friday, answering questions about his knowledge of websites allegedly created to spread propaganda against Erdogan.
After his deposition, prosecutor Cihan Kansiz asked the court to arrest him on charges of commanding a “terrorist organization” and seeking to overthrow the government using force and violence, Anatolia news agency reported.
Basbug denied the charges, calling them “tragi-comic.”
“If I had such bad intentions, as the commander of a 700,000-strong force, there would have been other ways” better than “one or two Internet stories” he said.
Basbug’s lawyer Ilkay Sezer said he will appeal the court’s decision.
Erdogan’s supporters say the probes are making Turkey more democratic by exposing secret plots against elected governments. The army staged full-scale coups in 1960 and 1980 and ousted two other governments in 1971 and 1997.
Earlier this week, prosecutors in Ankara requested life imprisonment for another former military chief, 94-year-old Kenan Evren, who became president after leading the 1980 army takeover.
Critics including the main opposition Republican People’s Party say they are a way of targeting opponents of the government. Scores of journalists, politicians and academics have also been jailed on the grounds they were involved in the plots.