Turkish Food Engineer Acquitted on Appeal
May 24, 2021
Last month Turkish food engineer Bülent Şık’s conviction and prison sentence—for revealing undisclosed results of a cancer study undertaken by the Ministry of Health—were overturned on appeal by the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice. The appeals court reportedly noted in its ruling that the Ministry of Health is required to make the results of its scientific studies public once they have been completed.
Dr. Şık is a respected scientific researcher in the field of food safety and security. We understand that, from 2011 to 2015, while deputy director of Akdeniz University’s Food Safety and Agricultural Research Center, he and several other university researchers took part in a Turkish Ministry of Health study that assessed the health impact of environmental factors in several industrialized areas experiencing above-average rates of cancer in the population. In April 2018, Dr. Şık wrote a series of articles, published in the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, alleging that the Ministry of Health had withheld findings from the study that revealed high levels of carcinogenic chemical residues in food and drinking water sources in the cities of Kocaeli, Kirklareli, Tekirdağ, and Edirne.
In response to a criminal complaint reportedly filed by the Ministry of Health shortly after the articles were published, Dr. Şık was brought to trial In Istanbul in early 2019. In September 2019, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison. He appealed the court’s decision two months later and was permitted to remain free pending the outcome of his appeals hearing.
In recent weeks, the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice Public Prosecutor has appealed Dr. Şık’s acquittal to the Court of Cassation, the highest appeals court.