Professor Ismail Kul was arrested in August 2016 for allegedly participating in the attempted coup of July 2016, and imprisoned for 18 months. The Turkish authorities released him in January 2018, six months after evidence of his innocence came out. He is still barred from traveling, and, in particular, from returning to his home in the US, and resuming his work as a Chemistry professor at Widener University.
September 2, 2019
Senator Patrick Joseph Toomey, Jr.
248 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Toomey:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists (“CCS”) is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. For almost 50 years CCS has been helping persecuted scholars overcome injustice and return to their academic work.
We are writing to bring the case of Professor Ismail Kul to your attention. Professor Kul, a dual citizen of the US and Turkey, is a professor of chemistry at Widener University, in Chester, Pennsylvania. He was arrested in Turkey while visiting his family in August 2016, and has not been permitted to leave Turkey and return to the US since then. He was held in prison until January 2018, and was barred from travelling after his release. Widener University is currently holding his position, waiting for his return to the US, but as it stands today, he cannot fulfill his teaching or administrative obligations.
Professor Kul was arrested following the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. He was charged with having ties with Fetullah Gulen, a legal resident of Pennsylvania, who was blamed for orchestrating the attempted coup. Professor Kul was jailed based on the testimony of an anonymous witness, who later recanted his testimony in a subsequent hearing. He was finally cleared of all charges and released from prison in January 2018, but his travelling privileges were not reinstated.
Professor Kul has been living in the US since 1994, and has carried out research and taught at various American universities. He has published over thirty papers in peer reviewed journals, and holds two patents. He has been teaching at Widener University since 2004. The arrest and travel ban have taken a personal, professional, and financial toll on professor Kul, and returning safely to the US would be the only way to bring a bit of normalcy back to his life.
The US government has been instrumental in securing the release from Turkey of other US citizens in the past. Pastor Andrew Brunson was released in October of last year and returned to the US after significant pressure was imposed by the Trump administration. Serkan Golge, a NASA scientist, was released from a Turkish prison this past May, shortly after a phone call between President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan. The CCS entreats you to do whatever is in your power to help Professor Kul return to the US, and to his job in Pennsylvania and his home in Delaware.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer, Ian Jauslin
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Letters were also sent to:
* Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester
* Senator Chris Coons
* Senator Tom Carper
* Senator Bob Casey, Jr.
* Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon