NASA scientist, Houston resident sentenced to 7.5 years in Turkish prison

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A Turkish-American scientist who worked for the Johnson Space Center received a 7.5 year sentence in a Turkish prison last week on terrorism charges.

Serkan Golge, a Houston resident who holds dual-citizenship in the United States and Turkey, has been incarcerated in Turkey since 2016.

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He was unable to speak with a U.S. consulate representative until October 2017, after over a year of imprisonment; though Golge has dual citizenship, Turkey considers him only a Turkish citizen.

The 38-year-old father of two is accused of participating in a failed coup to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which took place in June 2016. At the time, Golge, along with his wife and kids, was visiting family in Turkey.

That July, Golge was among at least seven American citizens arrested in connection to the event, which experts believe may have been a political stunt orchestrated by Erdogan to allow the arrest of his political opponents.

Though Golge and his family had no connections to the coup, a single U.S. dollar bill in his possession led to accusations that he was a CIA agent and sympathizer to Fethullah Gülen, the man accused of organizing the coup.

Golge maintains his innocence of the charges against him.

Accused organizer Gülen, who is hiding in the U.S., denied allegations that he was involved, and Golge claims no connections to the man.

Golge’s NASA ID badge was included among the evidence used against him.

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Later, an investigation into the charges showed they stemmed from a phone call to police from a relative of Golge who was upset about an inheritance dispute.

Golge, who is a physicist, worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as a senior researcher on the mission to Mars project. His position will reportedly remain open until he returns.

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