Turkish Court Releases Admirals Detained for Critical Letter

A tanker passes through the Bosporus in Istanbul. Photo: Pixabay/Sinasi Müldür

The international convention, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has suggested it might quit, governs the use of the Turkish Straits - the Dardanelles and Bosporus, strategic waterways that connect the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

The admirals were initially accused by the authorities of plotting a coup. Although the Ankara court ordered their release, they are not allowed to leave the city in which they reside and are banned from travelling abroad.

One of the admirals, Cem Gurdeniz, told media after he was released that he welcomed the ruling and described the incident as "an accident of communication".

"We thank the Turkish police and justice system," Gurdeniz said.

The retired admirals signed the letter on April 4 after Erdogan's government announced its plans to build a new canal next to the Bosporus and consider a possible withdrawal from the Montreux Convention.

"The Montreux [Convention] is the main document of the security of the countries in the Black Sea, and it makes it a sea of peace," the ex-admirals said.

The statement, also backed by retired diplomats and lawmakers, called on the government to stop the huge Canal Istanbul project, which will create a new artificial waterway only 30 kilometres from the Bosporus.

Erdogan's government voiced fury over the statements and accused the critics of fomenting a coup.

Prosecutors said the admirals were being investigated for conspiring to commit "a crime against state security and constitutional order".

On April 7, however, Erdogan appeared to row back a little from the threat to withdraw from the convention.

Turkey will be committed to the...

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