Helsinki Commission chair finds Turkish court’s decision on Gölge appeal disappointing

The Chairman of the Helsinki Commission on Monday said he was disappointed by the recent decision of the Turkish court to reduce the prison sentence of Serkan Gölge, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Turkey for allegedly aiding a terrorist organisation, instead of setting him free.

Gölge was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison in February after being found guilty of membership of the Gülen organisation, a religious group that Turkey accuses of plotting the July 2016  coup attempt and considers a terrorist organisation.

A Turkish court earlier this month reduced Gölge’s sentence, however, ruled to keep the former NASA scientist behind bars.

Sen. Roger Wicker, in his response to the decision published on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe website, noted that ‘’the Turkish justice system has failed to produce any convincing evidence of the charges against him.’’

‘’This injustice must come to an end. U.S. sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers should continue until all wrongfully detained Americans and locally employed staff of U.S. consulates in Turkey are free,” Wicker wrote.

Gölge is one of a number of U.S. citizens and employees jailed in Turkey. The State Department has criticised Turkey for convicting the scientist without credible evidence in February, however, Gölge’s case has been eclipsed by that of Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor who has been detained in Turkey on similar charges, causing a diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington.