Tags: Coronavirus | Turkey | Erdogan | jailed | reporters | coup

Erdogan Will Release 90K Prisoners to Stop Virus, But no Reporters, Dissenters

Erdogan Will Release 90K Prisoners to Stop Virus, But no Reporters, Dissenters
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) talk onstage at the opening ceremony of the Turkstream Gas Pipeline Project on January 08, 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

By Sunday, 19 April 2020 07:55 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made headlines worldwide last week when he announced that, under a new law passed by parliament April 14, roughly 90,000 inmates would be released from the nation’s prisons to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Among those coming out from behind bars are gangsters, drug dealers, and men convicted of violence against women.

But, what makes Erdogan’s announcement especially newsworthy is that among those set to be freed permanently or temporarily, not one is a journalist or a political opponent of Turkey’s strongman president.

According to opposition Members of Parliament, around 50,000 people convicted or in prison pending trial on charges of terrorism are excluded from the new law.

In July 2016, mass arrests following a failed coup attempt against Erdogan swelled the ranks of prisons to 300,000 — making Turkey the second-largest prison population in Europe and the most over-crowded prison system in Europe, according to the Council of Europe.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are competitors for having the most journalists in jail.

Where 231 journalists were arrested in Turkey following the ’16 coup, the Sweden-based Center for Freedom, that tracks the plight of jailed journalists, found that 122 were sentenced in 2018. 

In Turkey, the number of jailed journalists fell from 68 in 2018 to 47 in ’19.  This reflects, reports the CPJ, “the successful efforts by the government…to stamp out independent reporting and criticism by closing down more than 100 news outlets and lodging terror-related charges against many of their staff.”

The new law dealing with prison release includes language that crimes committed against the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) — roughly Erdogan’s Federal Bureau of Investigation — are not eligible for sentence reduction.

This comes as OdaTV’s news director Baris Terkoglu and correspondent Hulya Kilinc were arrested on March 5 on suspicion of disclosing the identity of an intelligence agency official.  Three days later, three top officials of the venerable Yeni Cag newspaper were arrested over the same story. 

“Gang members, looters, thieves, those giving bribes, pushing women to death, beaters, drug dealers and many other criminals will be released,” opposition Member of Parliament Utku Cakirozer told Turkey’s Duvar English publication, “but prisoners of thought won’t.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
 

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made headlines worldwide last week when he announced that, under a new law passed by parliament April 14, roughly 90,000 inmates would be released from the nation's prisons to stop the spread of the coronavirus...
Turkey, Erdogan, jailed, reporters, coup
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2020-55-19
Sunday, 19 April 2020 07:55 AM
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