CCS wrote President Trump requesting his help in obtaining Dr. Serkan Golge’s release from prison in Turkey. Golge is a scientist at NASA and an American citizen who went home to visit his family and was arrested and charged with complicity in the coup attempt almost a year ago in Turkey. Golge has been in prison since July with the only evidence being his having an American dollar in his possession, which was supposedly an indication of his involvement with the Gulenist movement – the group that Erdogan accused as being responsible for the coup. Encouraged by President Trump’s success in obtaining freedom for the Egyptian-American aid worker arrested three years ago in Egypt, CCS was hopeful that the same outcome may be possible for Dr. Golge.
April 26, 2017
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Trump:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists (CCS) commends you for achieving the release from jail of Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American aid worker, after a nearly three-year imprisonment in Egypt and unsuccessful efforts on her behalf by the previous U.S. administration.
CCS is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars dedicated to protecting the human rights and scientific freedom of academics around the globe. We hope that the successful record by your administration in protecting the rights of U.S. citizens abroad and defending human rights worldwide will grow and will become an example for future U.S. administrations as well as governments of other democratic countries.
Today we are seeking your help in achieving the release from a Turkish prison of an American citizen — a 36-year-old NASA scientist, Dr. Serkan Golge. He was arrested last summer during a family vacation in the Turkish Hatay province, on suspicion of belonging to the “FETO” organization run by Fethullah Gulen. A one-dollar American bill was found in the house of Dr. Golge’s relatives where he was staying at the time of his arrest. It was presented to the judge as the incriminating evidence against him. The serial number of the bill allegedly represented Golge’s place in the hierarchy of the Gulen organization, which Golge vehemently denied.
Since his arrest in July 2016, Dr. Golge has been held in Iskenderun prison where he has been subjected to extended periods of solitary confinement. On April 17, 2017, the first hearing of his case took place in the Penal Court of Hatay Province. The Prosecution has accused Dr. Golge of membership in a terrorist organization. He denied all charges and stated that he was focused on his scientific work for NASA and never participated in any terrorist or political organization. The trial has been postponed until May 26, 2017, with Dr. Golge remaining in detention.
In the absence of any credible evidence against Dr. Golge his detention and trial are both arbitrary and illegal, and, even under the current “State of Emergency,” it is a violation of Turkey’s International Human Rights commitments, as well as the rights guaranteed by the Turkish Constitution. The academic community and the human rights organizations worldwide have expressed dismay in connection with the unlawful imprisonment of Dr. Golge and have demanded his immediate release from Turkey – to date, with no response.
Mr. President, we trust that your concern for the fair treatment of American citizens abroad, that you have so forcefully demonstrated this week, will extend to this U.S. citizen – NASA scientist, Dr. Serkan Golge, and will help achieve his release from Turkish prison and his safe return to the United States.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists