About 10 former admirals have been detained by Turkish authorities after a group of more than 100 retired senior navy officers issued a statement which government officials have tied to Turkey’s history of military coups.
The presidential office had sharply condemned an open letter signed by 104 retired admirals, saying the move was “reminiscent of coup times” during Turkey’s past.
Local media reports that the retired admirals were detained as part of an investigation into their open letter, which was launched by the chief prosecutor in the capital, Ankara.
According to the report, prosecutors also ordered four other suspects to report to Ankara police within three days, opting not to detain them because of their age.
Last month, the Turkish government launched plans to develop a shipping canal in Istanbul, comparable to the Panama or Suez canals, opened up debate about the 1936 Montreux Convention.
Kanal Istanbul (Istanbul Canal) is the most ambitious of what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls his “crazy projects”, which have seen him building new airports, bridges, roads and tunnels during his 18 years in power.
In their letter released overnight on Saturday, the retired admirals said it was “worrying” to open the Montreux treaty up to debate, calling it an agreement that “best protects Turkish interests”.
But the presidency accuses the ex-senior military leaders of “using force and violence to get rid of the constitutional order”, NTV broadcaster reported.
“They [the admirals] should know that our esteemed nation and its representatives will never allow this mentality,” Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.
The Montreux Convention guarantees the free passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits of civilian vessels in times of both peace and war. It also regulates the use of the straits by military vessels from non-Black Sea states.
The waterway between Europe and Asia through the two straits in Turkey is clogged with maritime traffic and has seen several shipping accidents in recent years.