I have written here frequently about the sham trials that Turkey’s strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan used – along with his then allies, the Gülen movement – to topple the secularist establishment and solidify his hold on power. Among those targeted was my father-in-law, who was accused, along with hundreds of others, of having planned a gory military coup against the Erdogan government in its early days. The accusations rested on blatantly forged documents, which Turkey’s liberal intellectual establishment lapped up.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has now written a feature on my wife Pinar Dogan’s and my involvement in this case. The piece is here. An excerpt:
Most people would interpret what happened next as a victory for Rodrik and Dogan. In 2014 the Turkish constitutional court, finding that the defendants’ rights had been violated, ordered a retrial in the Sledgehammer case. Cetin Dogan was released from jail. When The Economist wrote up the news, its article began, "That long-awaited ‘we told you so’ moment arrived on June 18 for Dani Rodrik … and his wife Pinar Dogan." The retrial resulted in the acquittal, on March 31, of all the defendants.
"We won," says Pinar Dogan.
Rodrik sees it differently.
"We would have won," he says, "if we had convinced people earlier."
"Oh, come on," she says.
"I’m very disappointed," he says.
"How could this have happened?" Rodrik asks later, after his wife has left. "How could such a massive undermining of the rule of law have taken place in the name of building the rule of law for so many years," all while "people were looking and applauding? That’s the massive paradox that I’m trying to understand."
As a bonus, the article explores how the experience has affected my own research (though “a career forever changed” in the title is a bit of hyperbole – there should be a rule restricting the liberties editors take in coming up with titles …)
Here is an even longer first-person account I wrote, going into much greater details and naming names.