Middle Eastern governments and media are demonstrating increasing hostility to foreign researchers and journalists, according to an open letter signed by a group of distinguished scholars, academics, journalists, and members of non-governmental organizations.
The recent case of Henri J. Barkey, an analyst of modern Turkey, is “particularly alarming,” they note:
Turkish media outlets have alleged that Barkey, who is the director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, worked with the CIA in launching the plot to overthrow the Turkish government by force. The failed coup was a shocking, traumatic, and violent event that took the lives of 240 Turks. The authorities in Ankara have the responsibility to bring those involved in the plot to justice. At the time of the coup, Barkey was leading an academic seminar in Istanbul. In the aftermath, the pro-government media singled him out as a foreign bogeyman. His picture was splashed across the front pages of Turkey’s newspapers along with banner headlines alleging a connection between Barkey, the CIA, and the failed coup. The slander and outrageous charges grew more ominous with each passing day, in a clear and dangerous campaign of incitement that led to direct threats against Barkey’s life. No member of the Turkish media has been held accountable for these lies.
The signatories also cite the cases of Haleh Esfandiari, an American scholar at the Wilson Center, who was arrested in Iran and placed in solitary confinement in Evin Prison for 105 days; Carnegie Endowment analyst and former U.S. government official Michele Dunne, who was denied entry to Egypt; and Giulio Regeni (above), a 28-year-old-Italian graduate student who was tortured and killed him last February.