Turkey to release 38,000 prisoners jailed before coup

The sights and sounds of attempted coup
The sights and sounds of attempted coup

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Story highlights

  • Decree announced as Turkey continues crackdown after failed coup
  • Move is expected to make space in jail for those accused of involvement in coup

(CNN)Turkey is to release on parole 38,000 prisoners jailed before last month's coup attempt, the country's justice minister said Wednesday.

The move will free up space in crowded prisons as Turkish authorities continue a sweeping purge in the wake of the failed coup, which has resulted in the arrest or detention of more than 23,000 currently.
    Turkey's President Erdogan won't rule out death penaltyJustice Minister Bekir Bozdag tweeted that about 38,000 prisoners would be eligible for parole after having served half of their prison terms, as opposed to the standard two-thirds.
    The dispensation would only apply to those sentenced before July 1 -- weeks before the failed coup -- and would exclude those guilty of crimes such as murder, sexual or drug offenses and terrorism, he said.
    The move, he tweeted, was "not an amnesty."

    Extensive purge

    Turkey's crackdown on those it suspects of involvement in the coup attempt -- which claimed the lives of at least 240 people as well as 40 coup plotters -- has seen more than 35,000 people detained, with about one-third of them released.
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    The purge has also led to more than 81,000 people being dismissed or suspended from their jobs, including police officers, judges, teachers, soldiers and journalists, the country's semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported, citing Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
    Further sackings were announced Wednesday -- 2,360 police officers, 112 military personnel and 24 members of the coast guard, according to a decree in the official government gazette.
    Since their dismissals came made under the country's state of emergency, they will have no right to appeal, according to the gazette. Those dismissed will be stripped of their respective firearms, pilot's and sailing licenses and will be ineligible to work for private security companies in the future.
    Turkish police escort an accused coup participant from an Istanbul courthouse last month.
    The decree also said 196 people were being dismissed from the government's Information and Communication Technologies Authority, while another decree announced the closure of the Telecommunications Directorate.
    Another one said that Turkey intended to employ 4,000 new judges and prosecutors.
    Turkey has accused a Pennsylvania-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of being behind the coup attempt, and has requested his extradition from the United States. Gulen has repeatedly denied any involvement.
    Ankara has faced international criticism that it has been using the coup attempt to crack down on opponents and jail dissidents.