Serkan Golge, a 36-year-old NASA physicist of Turkish descent who was arrested on August 6th, was formally accused of involvement with the Gulen movement, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.
Golge has also been accused of spying for the CIA. Since July 15, President Erdoğan has repeatedly accused the US of supporting the attempted coup.
Golge traveled to Turkey in late June to visit family along with his wife and two sons. Since 2013, as a senior research scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Golge has studied the effects of radiation on astronauts aboard the International Space Station. He has helped create models that predict the risk of cancer from galactic cosmic rays and has analyzed data from particle detectors on the space station. At Jefferson Lab he worked on the PEPPo experiment to generate polarized beams of positrons.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the arbitrary detention of Serkan Golge, in response to his exercise of their rights to academic freedom, free expression and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. The ongoing tensions in Turkey have a profoundly unsettling effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education on a national scale.
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This war against academics started long before the attempted coup. On January 10 of this year, a group of scholars calling themselves Academics for Peace signed an open letter calling on the Turkish government to end its violence in the Kurdish provinces. The next day, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the signatories and the organizers of treason and called for them to be punished. The Turkish judiciary system initiated public prosecutions under Turkish anti-terror laws, alleging defamation of the Turkish state and accusing signatories of spreading “terrorist organization propaganda.” Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YÖK) ordered university rectors to commence disciplinary investigations. Numerous suspensions, dismissals, and imprisonments followed.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the detention of and professional retaliation against academics and human rights activists in Turkey in response to their exercise of the rights to academic freedom, free expression and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to both of which Turkey is a party. The ongoing tensions in Turkey have a profoundly destructive effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education on a national scale.
We at Endangered Scholars Worldwide urge Turkish officials to honor their constitutional obligations to protect the institutional integrity of universities and the academic freedom of scholars and academics.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide calls on the United Nations General Assembly, and member governments, to put pressure on the Turkish government and express concern over the actions taken by Turkish officials against universities and higher education establishments in Turkey.
Please join The New School, the home of the original University in Exile and Endangered Scholars Worldwide, in calling on Turkish authorities to:
cease their attacks on Turkish academics and universities;
free those who have been arrested without cause;
allow those who wish to travel freely outside the country to do so; and
make Turkish universities once again the havens of freedom of inquiry and free expression that all great universities must be.