Turkish authorities begun to release prisoners to stem the spread of COVID-19 hours after a release bill was approved by the Turkish parliament on Tuesday.

In the upcoming weeks, around 45,000 prisoners are expected to be released to stem the spread of the coronavirus. However, political prisoners who are convicted or being held in pre-trial detention over “terror or/and coup” charges are exempted from the release bill.

In other words, thousands of purge-victims, which include journalists and politicians swept up in a crackdown following a coup attempt in 2016. will not be released from prison anytime soon.

Who is not included in Erdogan’s release law?

1- Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-chairs of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, are not included. They have been behind bars since November 2016.The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in November of the same year that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was a political act and ordered his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the ECtHR ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey on Dec. 4 upheld his sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

2- Turkish businessman Osman Kavala is not included. Mr. Kavala has been in custody for almost three years, first charged with attempting to overthrow the government by organizing and funding the nationwide Gezi protests against then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2013.

3- Author Ahmet Altan is not included. He is in prison for “laying the groundwork for the 2016 coup attempt” with columns he wrote on May 12, 2016 and June 27, 2016.

4- Turkish political scientist Mümtaz Er Türköne remains in prison. Mr. Türköne, who used to work for the Erdogan-critical Zaman daily, which was shut down by the government in the aftermath of the coup attempt due to its links to the Gülen movement, has been behind bars for four years now.

5-  Thousands of academics, lawyers, journalists, civil servants who were jailed ober alleged links to Turkey’s Gülen group, are not included. President Erdogan blames Gulenists for the 2016 coup attempt. The group denies any involvement.

Who is included in Erdogan’s release law?

1-  Among the inmates that are released today is notorious Turkish mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı.He was convicted of establishing and leading a criminal organization, masterminding a murder, instigating assault and insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with each carrying a lengthy prison sentence.

2- Emre Esmer, a speeding drunk driver who caused a crash that killed 19-year-old İrem Su Akkaya in March 2019, will be released within this week. Esmer was given almost 9 years in prison.

3- Any inmate who was convicted of sexual abuse, sexual intercourse with minors, and any other rape offenses, will be released should they completed three-quarters of sentence.

3- Any inmate who was convicted of illegal drug production and trafficking, will be released should they completed three-quarters of sentence.