How a Turkish physicist wrote research papers in prison

d41586-018-01370-1_15419820Thousands of academics in Turkish universities stand accused of either having supported terrorism or the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016. Theoretical physicist Ali Kaya is one of them. He was arrested three months after the failed coup and held for more than a year before his trial took place. On 20 December, a court declared him guilty of being a member of a terrorist organization and sentenced him to six years of imprisonment — but released him early owing to the time he had already served in prison while awaiting trial. Kaya says that he is innocent and is appealing against the verdict. In the meantime, he has been suspended from his academic post, and he has yet to learn whether his university, Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, plans to fire him or to await the outcome of the appeal.

Kaya says that while in prison, he kept his sanity by continuing his work on fundamental topics in cosmology. He wrote three research papers during his incarceration, on topics including inflation theory and cosmological perturbation theory. After his release, he posted the papers on the preprint server arXiv. Each contains a footnote that he dedicates to his friends in jail “who made my stay bearable at hell for 440 days between 7.10.2016 and 20.12.2017. I am also indebted to the colleagues who show support in these difficult times.”

Read an interview with Ali Kaya in Nature