Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Turkey warning on AK Party ban

Cemil Cicek
Cemil Cicek says an AK Party ban would hit Turkey's economy

Turkey's governing AK Party has warned against any attempt to ban it in a continuing row over phone tapping.

Ministers are being accused of allowing illegal tapping of senior judicial officials' phones.

There is speculation that an investigation could lead to another attempt to outlaw the AK Party, which has its roots in political Islam.

Deputy PM Cemil Cicek was quoted as saying any such action would turn the country "upside down".

"Such an attempt would have a negative impact on economic and political stability," Mr Cicek told the Milliyet newspaper

Turkish chief prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya is looking into whether the wiretaps were in breach of the constitution, a move which could result in legal action to outlaw the AK Party.

Coup plot

However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stressed that any surveillance had been cleared by the courts.

"None of the steps taken by the government is unlawful," he said on Monday.

"There is no step taken without a court decision".

The government has been accused of carrying out the surveillance for political reasons after it emerged that judicial officials, among them Istanbul's chief prosecutors, had their phones tapped.

The row comes amid tension between the AK Party and Turkey's secular and military establishment, fuelled by the trial of leading figures accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

Dozens of people, including retired generals, journalists and academics, were charged with involvement in a shadowy ultra-nationalist network - known as Ergenekon - which allegedly aimed to provoke a military coup.

The AK Party, which first came to power in 2002, narrowly avoided a ban last year over allegations that it was trying to pursue an Islamic agenda in officially secular Turkey.

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