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Panelists think Columbia canceled event on Turkey after pressure from Turkish gov’t

New York City’s Columbia University canceled a panel discussion on Turkey two days before the event, citing “academic standards,” although two panelists said on Twitter that they believe it happened due to pressure from the Turkish government.

“Disappointed to learn that @Columbia ‘s Provost effectively canceled this panel two days before the event, citing ‘academic standards.’ One can only assume that the university came under pressure from the govt of #Turkey and its supporters. Terrible precedent,” tweeted Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow at Council on Foreign Relations.

“I agree [with Steven A. Cook] that this was likely due to pressure from Turkish government-likely from NYC consulate/embassy,” also tweeted Sinan Ciddi, the executive director of the Institute of Turkish Studies at Georgetown University.

Co-hosted with PEN America, the panel, presented by Columbia’s Global Freedom of Expression initiative, was also to include Alp Y. Aslandoğan, president of Alliance for Shared Values, an umbrella organization for Gülen-affiliated associations in the US.

“We also understand that late last week Columbia was approached by a representative of the Turkish government who expressed objections to the planned event and the views that would be reflected in the discussion,” a statement issued on Wednesday by PEN America said.

Turkey accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

Ankara wants its allies to designate the movement as a terrorist organization, although so far Western countries have not been convinced by Turkey’s evidence on the coup.

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