Basbug, far right, is the highest ranking army officer to be summoned for questioning in the Ergenekon case [EPA]

Turkey's former chief of army staff has been called to court for questioning over allegations of his involvement in the creation of websites to discredit Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, and the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

General Ilker Basbug is the highest ranking officer to be questioned in the investigation into the so-called Ergenekon network, an ultra-nationalist group accused of conspiring against Erdogan's government.

State prosecutors are investigating allegations that Turkey's military launched websites to spread propaganda against Edogan and the AKP.

Reports in the Turkish newspaper, Today's Zaman, regarded as close to the government, claim that former army commanders also being investigated have stated that Basbug had given the order to set up the propaganda websites.

The state-run Anatolian news agency said an Istanbul prosecutor had sent a notice to Basbug, who was chief of general staff from 2008 until his retirement in 2010, calling him to answer questions as a suspect.

But opposition parties have accused the government of using Ergenekon to go after its critics, an accusation it denies.

Tensions between Turkey's secularist military and the AKP have been building for years. Erdogan has introduced constitutional changes curbing the influence of military and further strengthening civilian rule.

About one-tenth of the army's generals are in custody over an alleged plot presented at an army seminar in 2003, to involve plans to bomb mosques and provoke tensions with Greece, in order to sow political chaos and justify a military takeover.

In August, the chief of the armed forces, Isik Kosaner, and the separate heads of the army, navy and air force all resigned in a row with the government over the promotion of dozens of officers held in the investigation of alleged plots to remove the government.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies