Turkey doctor gets 15 months' jail for revealing pollution cancer risk

ISTANBUL - A Turkish scientist was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Thursday (Sept 26) for revealing the cancer risks posed by toxic pollution in western Turkey.

The court in Istanbul found Dr Bulent Sik guilty of "disclosing classified information" to newspaper Cumhuriyet last year.

He published the results of a study carried out with other scientists for the Ministry of Health between 2011 and 2015 that linked the presence of toxicity in soil, water and food to high rates of cancer in several western provinces.

He approached the press after realising that the government was not acting on the study's findings, according to Amnesty International.

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"Rather than suppressing the findings and prosecuting Dr Sik, the Ministry of Health and other relevant authorities should be taking the necessary urgent action to tackle this environmental pollution and protect public health," said Amnesty's Turkey campaigner Milena Buyum ahead of the verdict.

She said Amnesty would consider Dr Sik a prisoner of conscience if he was jailed.

Dr Sik had faced up to 12 years in prison, but the court found him not guilty of "obtaining classified information".

He remained free on Thursday pending an appeal.