Turkey: Ten former admirals arrested for criticizing the president’s plan

Ankara | Ten retired Turkish admirals were arrested on Monday, a day after the publication of an open letter signed by 100 former officers criticizing the head of state’s plan to build a canal in Istanbul that they believe might threaten freedom of navigation.

According to the Prosecutor General’s Office in Ankara, the ten retired admirals have been detained. Four other former officers were not arrested due to their age, but were ordered to report to the Ankara police within the next three days.

An investigation was opened against the retired soldiers who signed the letter “an encounter aimed at committing a crime against state security and the constitutional order,” according to the prosecution.

On Sunday, prominent Turkish officials denounced the open letter signed by more than 100 retired admirals, in which they warned of the danger of believing in the “Istanbul Canal” project led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with a treaty guaranteeing freedom of passage through the Bosphorus Strait.

Turkey’s approval last month of plans to develop a navigation canal in Istanbul similar to those in Panama or Suez, opening the debate over the Montreux Agreement.

«Canal Istanbul» est le plus ambitieux de ce que le président Erdogan appelle ses «projets fous», qui l’ont vu transformer l’infrastructure de la Turquie avec de nouveaux aéroports, ponts, routes et tunnels au cours de ses 18 années au Can.

The government says this canal will provide Istanbul with a new center of attraction in addition to easing the Bosphorus, one of the world’s busiest fjords.

But opponents say that in addition to its environmental impact, the project could jeopardize the Montreux Convention, which dates back to 1936, and which guarantees the free passage of civilian ships in the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, in peacetime. .

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In their open letter, 104 retired admirals said it was “alarming” to open a debate on the Montreux Treaty, saying it was an agreement that “protects Turkish interests at best.”

The admirals’ message sparked a sharp reaction from government officials.

“Not only those who signed, but also those who encourage them, will be held accountable in court,” Fakhreddin Altun, President of Erdogan’s communications chief, said on Twitter on Sunday.

The presidency said Erdogan is expected to address the matter at a meeting on Monday at 12 pm GMT.

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