US criticizes Turkey over conviction of NASA scientist
The United States has expressed deep concern over the conviction in Turkey of Serkan Gölge, a U.S. citizen and NASA scientist, on charges of being a member of a terror organization.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the February 8 conviction without credible evidence of U.S. citizen and @NASA scientist Serkan Golge for being a member of a terror organization. We call on Turkey’s Government to end the protracted state of emergency,” the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said through its Twitter account on Feb. 9.
Gölge was arrested on charges of espionage and terror in July 2016, days after the military coup attempt believed to have been carried out by followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. A local court convicted Gölge of being a member of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) on Feb. 8.
“We will continue to follow his case closely along with those of other U.S. citizens whose ongoing prosecution under the state of emergency raises serious concerns about respect for judicial independence, protections enshrined in the Turkish constitution, including an individual’s right to a fair trial,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters at a daily press conference on Feb. 8.
“The safety of U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Turkey remains a concern. We’d like to call on the Turkish Government to end the protracted state of emergency, to release those detained arbitrarily under emergency authorities, and to safeguard the rule of law consistent with Turkey’s own domestic and international obligations and commitments,” Nauert added.
The move comes amid strained bilateral ties between Ankara and Washington over a number of issues. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster are due to visit Turkey in the coming days for crucial talks with senior Turkish officials on continued tension over Syria.