Turkey has widened its investigation of an attempted military coup against the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.

The nation witnessed prior coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

Middle East Newsline says, so far, about 150 people, many of them military officers, have been prosecuted on charges of participating in the alleged coup.

Critics of Mr. Erdogan have countered the investigation was meant to neutralize the secular opposition.

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“The judicial bodies are authorized to deal with those who commit crimes,” Deputy Prime Minister Hayati Yazici said.

On Monday, Turkish police arrested the dean of a leading university in connection with the so-called Ergenekon group. In all, 18 people were arrested, including two former university deans.

“Turkey is on the right track,” Mr. Yazici said.

The Turkish General Staff has expressed concern over the arrests. So far, the military has not directly intervened in the investigation.

The Turkish government is also targeting the head of a Turkish secular group, the Ataturk Thought Association, with branches throughout the country and organizer of anti-government demonstrations in 2007. The home of Ataturk Thought Association chairman Mustafa Yurtkuran has been searched as part of the more than year-long investigation.

“This is an operation against the intellectuals of this country,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, an opposition leader in parliament, said.

Turkey plays a key strategic role as a member of NATO and is a neighbor of Iran.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.