Serkan Gölge, a 37-year-old physicist and research scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was sentenced to 7 years, 6 months in prison on charges of membership in Turkey’s Gülen group, which accused of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Gölge, a dual US-Turkish citizen, has been held for 18 months in İskenderun Prison after being detained in Hatay province while on a family visit on allegations of being a CIA agent and a member of Gülen group.

US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a press briefing on Thursday that the United States is deeply concerned about his conviction.

“… we’d like to say the United States is deeply concerned by the February 8th conviction without credible evidence of US citizen Serkan Gölge for being a member of a terror organization. We will continue to follow his case closely along with those of other US 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. The safety of US citizens traveling to or residing in Turkey remains a concern. He was arrested … in July of 2017. He’s a NASA scientist …. 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,” she said.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen group of masterminding the coup while the latter denies any involvement.

More than 150,000 people have been detained and some 60,000 including academics, judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers, students, policemen and many from different backgrounds have been put in pre-trial detention since last summer.

Meanwhile 150,000 people have lost their jobs at state institutions, universities, hospitals and even private companies.