U.S. deeply concerned by Turkish conviction of NASA scientist

The United States is deeply concerned about Turkey’s sentencing of a Turkish-American scientist as a member of a terrorist organisation, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Serkan Gölge, who worked studying the effects of radiation for the Mars programme at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, faced 15 years imprisonment for allegedly being a member of the Fethullah Gülen movement, Turkish news site Gazete Istanbul said.

The State Department said Gölge had been convicted “without credible evidence” and that Turkey should act to “safeguard the rule of law”. It was not immediately clear however what Gölge’s sentence was.

Serkan Gölge

Gölge, a father of two, graduated from a Gülenist-linked university in Istanbul in 2002 and went on to do his doctorate in the United States.

He was arrested after the failed coup attempt of 2016 – which the Turkish government attributes to the Fethullah Gülen movement, a transnational religious group – and he was accused of being a CIA agent after his National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) identity card was discovered.

Later he was charged with Gülen movement membership after he was found to possess a one-dollar bill with an “F” printed on it, indicating that it was produced at the Federal Reserve Bank in the city of Atlanta. The prosecution said that the F-lettered bills were used as a code for Gülenists to identify one another.