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Turkish court frees ex-Navy, Air Force chiefs

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - A Turkish court released the former chiefs of the navy and air force late Thursday without charging them with involvement in an alleged coup plot several years ago to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government.

Twenty current and former senior officers, including five admirals and three generals, have been formally charged of plotting to topple Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, and ordered held in jail.

The court in Istanbul released former navy chief Adm. Ozden Ornek and former air force chief Gen. Ibrahim Firtina. Both were released hours after the country's military chief, the president and the prime minister met to defuse tensions over the probe into the alleged military coup plot in 2003.

Firtina told reporters as he left the courthouse that he "clarified some misunderstandings about some issues ...

"I believe that I have done this satisfactorily, and I am among you now," Firtina said.

The tensions between Turkey's two main political forces - the Islamic-based government and the fiercely secular military - have worried businesses and investors, shaking the markets. Opposition parties have urged early elections to end the turmoil.

Earlier Thursday, Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul held a rare, three-hour meeting with Gen. Ilker Basbug, chief of the military, and afterward all three issued a joint statement.

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