Turkey responds to US in growing row over Turkish-American NASA scientist
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy on Feb. 9 responded to the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert's statement about Serkan Gölge, a U.S. citizen and NASA scientist, convicted by Turkey on charges of being a member of a terror organization.
“Serkan Gölge, a Turkish citizen, was tried by an independent Turkish court and sentenced after a fair trial,” Aksoy said in a written statement, responding to the criticism.
“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 had said through its Twitter account on Feb. 9.
“It is not possible to take the biased words of the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, who does not know the content and evidence of the case file, seriously," Aksoy added, also responding to Nauert.
“The Turkish judiciary does not decide according to the desire of someone or of external instructions, but decides according to Turkey’s Constitution, laws, and evidence. We expect our U.S. interlocutors to respect the decisions of independent Turkish courts,” Aksoy said.
“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 Nauert had told reporters at a daily press conference on Feb. 8.
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.
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.