ODU alumnus convicted of being a terrorist group member released from prison

Serkan Golge (Southside Daily/Courtesy of ODU)
Serkan Golge (Southside Daily/Courtesy of ODU)

Physicist Serkan Golge, who received his doctorate from Old Dominion University in 2010, was released from a Turkish prison after two years in captivity.

Golge, a dual citizen of the United States and Turkey, had been working as a research scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. While visiting relatives in Turkey in 2016, he was arrested on suspicion of participating in the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Golge repeatedly denied the allegation, but a Turkish court last year convicted him of membership in a terrorist organization.

He still is not permitted to leave the country and must report regularly to authorities. But State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the U.S. government is working so that “he can return home as soon as possible.”

Charles Hyde, chairman of the Department of Physics and Golge’s dissertation adviser, said he is “delighted and relieved that Serkan has finally been released. He was always cheerful, eager to learn and ready to contribute to any project.”

Gail Dodge, dean of the College of Sciences and a professor of physics, said, “I remember Serkan well from his years as a Ph.D. student. He was always very kind and friendly to everyone. I am thrilled that he has been released from prison.”

ODU has had a longstanding relationship with students, faculty and exchange scholars from Turkey, and is also monitoring their situation.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.