New decree authorizes Erdoğan for prisoner swap with other countries

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the 39th Mukhtars Meeting, at Presidential Complex in Ankara, on August 22, 2017. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on August 22, 2017 vowed Turkey would thwart any attempt by a Kurdish militia it deems "terrorists" to carve out a Kurdish state in northern Syria. Ankara views the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) as a terror group. But the United States is closely allied with the groups' fighters in the battle against jihadists in Syria. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

With dozens of foreign nationals held in Turkish prisons on political charges, a new decree issued Friday authorizes President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to swap or return foreign national prisoners to their home countries.

Since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 several critical decisions, including but not limited to, purges of civil servants in Turkey have been put into effect by means of decrees enabled by state of emergency powers.

According to one of the two decrees issued on Aug. 25, due to “national security concerns” the president of the country can decide to return or swap foreign national prisoners.

As part of Turkey’s massive purge in wake of the failed coup, several citizens of foreign countries such as Germany and the United States were arrested on “terror” charges.

The two new decrees also tied the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to the presidency.

According to the new decrees, which were published in the Official Gazette and numbered 693 and 694, the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee, which was previously chaired by MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, will be presided over by President Erdoğan.

With the new decrees, launching an investigation into the MİT undersecretary will be possible only with the permission of the president. Objections to a decision which gives or does not give permission to investigate the undersecretary will be made to the Council of State. In the event the permission is received, the investigation will be launched by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The intelligence services concerning Defense Ministry and Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) personnel will be conducted by MİT.

Fidan was criticized by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for not testifying to the legislature’s Coup Investigation Commission and submitting written testimony together with Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar after a botched coup attempt last summer.

According to the new decrees, 922 people from state institutions, including 142 from the Justice Ministry, 29 from the Interior Ministry, 19 from the Defense Ministry and 120 academics from universities, were fired.

Two newspapers, one news agency and three foundations were also shut down by the decrees.

The Turkish government has suspended or dismissed more than 146,000 people, including soldiers, judges, teachers, police officers and civil servants, since last year through government decrees issued as part of a state of emergency.

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