Updated: Apr 26, 2019
Serkan Golge, a NASA researcher and an American-Turkish dual citizen of Turkish descent, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison by Turkish authorities based on allegations of involvement in the attempted coup in July 2016. He was arrested due to an anonymous tip while visiting family in Antakya in June 2016 and accused of spying for the CIA and being a member of the Gulen movement, which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkish authorities. The only evidence against him was a dollar bill. After Golge spent eight months in an isolated cell in Iskenderun Prison, the judge overseeing his case was replaced by another right before the first court hearing. Despite the lack of significant proof of Golge's involvement with the Gulen movement, the verdict of guilt was declared in the second court hearing in February 2018. Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the professional retaliation against scientists and academics, whose rights to academic freedom and to free expression and association are expressly protected under 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 destructive effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education and scientific contribution not only on a national, but also on an international scale.
We at Endangered Scholars Worldwide urge Turkish officials to honor their constitutional obligations to protect the civil, political, and academic freedoms of scholars.