An Istanbul court has ordered the arrest of the officer expected to
become the next commander of the Air Force. Gen. Bilgin Balanli was taken
into detention on May 30 and accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamist
government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The arrest strikes at the heart of the military and endangers
leadership plans in the Air Force," a military source said.
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Under Erdogan, more than 200 military and security officers have been
arrested in the alleged plot to overthrow the government. Secular
critics said the arrests marked a crackdown by the ruling Justice and
Development Party against the powerful military.
Balanli has been commander of the War Academy and represented the
highest-ranking officer detained in the alleged coup. The only active
general under arrest, Balanli had been preparing to take over the Air Force
in annual promotions scheduled to take place in August.
Over the last year, Erdogan has blocked several appointments of senior
officers accused of having participated in the alleged coup. Balanli was
said to have been the leading candidate to replace Air Force commander Gen.