Tens of thousands of prisoners freed in Turkey

Access to the comments Comments
By Catherine Hardy
Tens of thousands of prisoners freed in Turkey

The Turkish government says it will release around 38,000 prisoners as part of a penal reform announced on Wednesday.

The government has given no reason for the reform, which is part of a series of measures outlined in two state-of-emergency decrees.

The decrees, published in Turkey’s Official Gazette, also order the dismissal of:

  • 2,360 more police officers
  • More than 100 military personnel
  • 196 staff at Turkey’s ICT authority, BTK

  • Why have they been dismissed?

    Those dismissed are described as having links to the US-based cleric, Fetullah Gulen.

    Ankara has accused him of organising a coup on July 15 in which 240 people were killed.

    Rogue troops commandeered tanks and jets in an attempt to overthrow the government.

    Gulen denies involvement in the coup.

    Who is eligible for release from prison?

    Convicts with up to two years left of their sentences are eligible for release on probation.

    Previously, only those with one year left were eligible.

    Prisoners must also have served half their sentences to be eligible. Previously, it was two-thirds.

    The “supervised release” excludes those convicted of terrorism, murder, violent or sexual crimes.

    Why is Turkey under a state of emergency?

    It was brought in after the failed coup.

    What is the context?

    The arrests of tens of thousands of people suspected of links to last month’s attempted coup are burdening Turkey’s already overstretched jails.

    Wednesday’s decree provides for the release of 38,000 people.

    However, more than 35,000 have been detained since the July coup.

    Tens of thousands of civil servants have been dismissed.

    What is the international response?

    Turkey’s Western allies worry President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the crackdown to target dissent.

    What is Turkey’s response?

    Turkish officials say they are rooting out a serious internal threat.

    They have dismissed Western concerns.