SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 10, 2017

Attack Types: Prosecution

Institution(s):Lehigh University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 10, 2017, Turkish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Henri Barkey, a scholar of international relations, based on allegations that he was involved in a violent coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

At the time of the coup attempt, Professor Barkey, who is based in the United States, was attending an academic workshop on Büyükada Island, off the coast of Istanbul. Afterward, Professor Barkey was the subject of a series of apparently unsupported allegations within the Turkish press, including claims that he had helped organized the coup attempt on behalf of the CIA, and that he was involved in setting up communications for the individuals who attempted the coup. The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s office ultimately accused Barkey of organizing and coordinating the coup for the CIA from the workshop venue. It remains unclear what if any evidentiary basis exists for these allegations.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about efforts to arrest a scholar, apparently arising out of nonviolent exercise of the rights to academic freedom and freedom of assembly. While State authorities have a right to maintain order and respond to legitimate security concerns, such actions must comply with States’ human rights obligations, including those relating to freedom of association, due process, and academic freedom, which are protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and democratic society generally.