ISTANBUL, Turkey: Turkey has arrested ten former admirals who criticized a government plan to build a canal to the Mediterranean Sea.
The admirals were among over 100 former military officers who signed a letter that criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Istanbul canal project. The plan calls for building a new waterway from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, in addition to the existing Bosphorus strait.
The former senior navy officials warned that the proposed canal could harm Turkish security by making obsolete an 85-year-old international treaty to prevent the militarization of the Black Sea.
Turkish officials responded to the letter with fury, claiming the admirals statements were "echoing coup times".
"A group of retired soldiers are putting themselves into a laughable and miserable position with their statement that echoes military coup times," presidential spokesperson brahim Kaln said on Twitter.
"The [group] should know that our esteemed nation and its representatives will never allow this mentality," he added.
Also, Erdoan's top press aide, Fahrettin Altun, said, "Not only those who signed, but also those who encourage them will give an account before justice."
The proposed Istanbul canal is the largest of dozens of infrastructure development projects that have been launched during Erdoan's 18 years in office.
The 28-mile canal is to be built west of the Bosphorous to ease heavy traffic and reduce the risk of accidents on the existing strait.
The former admirals are accused of conspiring to harm state security and constitutional order, according to the news website Habertrk.