Breaking News—Turkey Frees NASA Scientist from Prison after Three Years
On May 29, 2019, Turkey released Serkan Gölge, a US citizen of Turkish descent and a physicist with the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, from İskenderun Prison with conditions, according to information received from Gölge’s family. Gölge, 39, was arrested in July 2016.
Gölge was found guilty earlier this year of being a member of an armed terrorist organization and subsequently sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. His sentence was later reduced to five years by an appeals court where he was found guilty of aiding a terrorist organization rather than being a member of one. Gölge, however, has always denied the charges against him.
According to the most recent ruling, Gölge has been released under judicial control, meaning he is not allowed to leave the country and will have to regularly report to local authorities.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide welcomes this news with great relief. For the past three years, ESW has been monitoring Golge’s case by making inquiries on a daily basis in an attempt to have Golge released and to have charges against him dropped. ESW hopes that Turkish authorities will allow Gölge to return home as soon as possible. ESW remains deeply concerned about the harsh measures taken against academics in Turkey in response to their exercise of the 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, both to which Turkey is 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.