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.