Turkey will release 38,000 prisoners under a penal reform announced on Wednesday after the arrests of tens of thousands of people suspected of links to last month’s attempted coup added to pressure on overstretched jails.
The reform was one of a series of measures outlined on Wednesday in two new decrees under a state of emergency declared after the July 15 failed putsch during which 240 people, mostly civilians, were killed. The government gave no reason for the reform.
Western allies worry President Tayyip Erdogan, accused by opponents of creeping authoritarianism, is using the crackdown to target dissent, testing relations with a key NATO partner in the war on Islamic State.
Angrily dismissing the West’s concerns, Turkish officials say they are rooting out a serious internal threat from followers of a U.S.-based cleric Ankara blames for orchestrating a coup bid.