Turkey doctor gets 15 months for revealing pollution cancer risk

Turkey doctor gets 15 months for revealing pollution cancer risk
A Turkish scientist was sentenced to 15 months in prison for revealing the cancer risks posed by toxic pollution in western Turkey. (AFP)
Updated 26 September 2019

Turkey doctor gets 15 months for revealing pollution cancer risk

Turkey doctor gets 15 months for revealing pollution cancer risk
  • The court in Istanbul found Dr. Bulent Sik guilty of “disclosing classified information” — a verdict described as a “travesty of justice” by Amnesty International
  • Dr. Sik last year revealed the results of a study carried out with other scientists for the Ministry of Health between 2011 and 2015 linking the toxicity in soil

ISTANBUL: A Turkish scientist was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Thursday 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” — a verdict described as a “travesty of justice” by Amnesty International.
Dr. Sik last year revealed the results of a study carried out with other scientists for the Ministry of Health between 2011 and 2015 linking the toxicity in soil, water and food to high rates of cancer in several western provinces.
He wrote the articles for newspaper Cumhuriyet after realizing the government was not acting on the study’s findings.
The study “clearly revealed the extent to which water resources were contiminated by toxic materials,” Dr. Sik told reporters after the verdict.
“The court ruling shows that the results of a study that directly concerns public health can be hidden. This is unacceptable,” he added.
Dr. Sik remained free on Thursday pending appeal.
Rights groups and environmentalists accuse the government of failing to enforce environmental regulations amid a rapid industrial boom in many parts of the country.
Pollution from the industrial zone of Dilovasi, around 80 kilometers from Istanbul and home to many chemical and metallurgy factories, was singled out in the report for having cancer rates well above the international average.
“The case against Bulent Sik has been, from the start, a travesty of justice,” Amnesty’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner told AFP.
“Instead of pursuing a whistleblower through the court, the Turkish authorities should be investigating this important public health issue.”
Amnesty said it would consider Dr. Sik a prisoner of conscience if he was jailed.
Turkey has seen a wide-ranging crackdown on many aspects of free speech, especially since a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.
Dr. Sik had faced up to 12 years in prison, but the court found him not guilty of “obtaining classified information.”


US Treasury Targets Hezbollah finance official and shadow bankers in Lebanon

US Treasury Targets Hezbollah finance official and shadow bankers in Lebanon
Updated 37 sec ago

US Treasury Targets Hezbollah finance official and shadow bankers in Lebanon

US Treasury Targets Hezbollah finance official and shadow bankers in Lebanon

The US Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed sanctions on seven Lebanese nationals it said were connected to the Iran-backed militant Hezbollah movement and its financial firm, Al-Qard al-Hassan (AQAH).

The Treasury in a statement said it had blacklisted Ibrahim Ali Daher, the chief of Hezbollah's Central Finance Unit, as a specially designated global terrorist alongside six people it accused of using the cover of personal accounts at Lebanese banks to evade sanctions targeting AQAH.

"Hezbollah continues to abuse the Lebanese financial sector and drain Lebanon’s financial resources at an already dire time," Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement.

The Treasury also blacklisted Ahmad Mohamad Yazbeck, Abbas Hassan Gharib, Wahid Mahmud Subayti, Mostafa Habib Harb, Ezzat Youssef Akar, and Hasan Chehadeh Othman in connection with Hezbollah and its financial firm.

The move freezes any US assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those who engage in certain transactions with the designated individuals also risk being hit with secondary sanctions.


UK FM condemns Gaza rockets, not Israel

UK FM condemns Gaza rockets, not Israel
Updated 18 min 1 sec ago

UK FM condemns Gaza rockets, not Israel

UK FM condemns Gaza rockets, not Israel
  • Dozens of Palestinians killed, hundreds wounded in recent days
  • Failure to condemn Israel ‘unsurprising’ and ‘appalling,’ Palestine Solidarity Campaign tells Arab News

LONDON: The UK’s foreign secretary has been criticized for condemning rocket fire into Israel but not its subsequent bombing of Gaza, which has killed dozens of people — including children — or its injuring of hundreds of Palestinians in Jerusalem in the days prior.

Dominic Raab’s tweet — which was retweeted by Middle East and North Africa Minister James Cleverly — said the UK “condemns the firing of rockets at Jerusalem and locations within Israel. The ongoing violence in Jerusalem and Gaza must stop. We need an immediate de-escalation on all sides, and end to targeting of civilian populations.”

Roua Naboulsi, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s media and communications officer, told Arab News that it is “unsurprising but nonetheless appalling” that Raab chose to condemn rocket fire from Gaza while “ignoring Israel’s systematic targeting and murder of civilians and children, its ongoing ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, and its body of laws and policies that discriminate against Palestinians and deny them their rights.”

She added: “Human Rights Watch recently concurred that these laws and policies amount to the crime of apartheid. Israel can only practice these crimes with the support and complicity of governments like the UK’s. It’s high time for this to change. The (UK) government must finally speak out against these crimes against humanity and hold Israel accountable.”

After days of violence in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Palestinian militants on Monday fired rockets toward Jerusalem and southern Israel, saying it was punishment for the violence endured by Palestinians in the city.

Amnesty International on Monday said Israel had used “repeated, unwarranted and excessive force” against “largely peaceful Palestinian protesters in recent days” in Jerusalem, resulting in 840 being injured.

Israeli police officers were seen firing tear gas and stun grenades, with several landing inside Al-Aqsa Mosque. Social media footage showed Israeli crowds celebrating as fires raged in the holy site. 

British opposition MPs condemned Israel’s bombardment. “Seeing footage of Israeli airstrikes kill men, women and children in Gaza, I send my solidarity, my love and my prayers to the Palestinian people,” tweeted Labour MP Zarah Sultana.

“These brutal attacks must be condemned and Israel’s illegal settlements, occupation, and siege must end.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, told Arab News: “The international community needs to make all the parties to this conflict aware of their obligations. Primarily, Israel should never have been in the process of forcible evictions, the building of settlements and the heavy-handed, violent manner in which it dealt with protests and its aggression outside Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

He said: “Hamas sending rockets into Israel indiscriminately is wrong, the foreign secretary is right to condemn that, but what we know from painful past experience is that Israeli bombing of Gaza isn’t precise against those carrying out the rocketing. What we’ve seen in previous wars is Israel ‘mowing the lawn,’ where it ends up killing hundreds and thousands of Palestinians and destroying huge areas of the Gaza Strip.”

Doyle added: “It’s vital that the international community holds every party to account here. The failure to hold parties to account — especially Israel, which often gets a ‘green light’ for its actions in the past — has led us to the situation we’re in now.”


US says UN team monitoring Iraq elections will be ‘world’s largest’

US says UN team monitoring Iraq elections will be ‘world’s largest’
Updated 47 min 44 sec ago

US says UN team monitoring Iraq elections will be ‘world’s largest’

US says UN team monitoring Iraq elections will be ‘world’s largest’

NEW YORK: The UN monitoring team for October elections in Iraq will be the largest technical election assistance team in the world, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Tuesday.
She said the team would be big enough to deter fraud, increase turnout, and return trust to Iraq's democracy.
Iraqis will go to the polls more than three years after the last vote to elect members of the Council of Representatives, who in turn elect a prime minister and president.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi took office a year ago after months of protests led to the collapse of the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi.
Thomas-Greenfield thanked Al-Kadhimi for his efforts to cement some trust in the government, which she said was needed for progress to be made on the economy or holding elections.


US contractor leaves Iraq base over rocket attacks

US contractor leaves Iraq base over rocket attacks
Updated 11 May 2021

US contractor leaves Iraq base over rocket attacks

US contractor leaves Iraq base over rocket attacks
  • At least three foreign subcontractors and one Iraqi subcontractor have been wounded
  • Baghdad sent its national security adviser to Balad base last week to try to reassure the American firm

SAMARRA: US contractor Lockheed Martin has withdrawn its staff from an Iraq base where it had been maintaining the Iraqi army’s F-16 fighter jets, military sources said, after a spate of rocket attacks.
At least five attacks have targeted the Balad air base, where other US companies including Sallyport are also present, since the start of the year.
At least three foreign subcontractors and one Iraqi subcontractor have been wounded.
The attacks are rarely claimed, and when they are it is by obscure groups that experts say are a facade for Iran-backed Iraqi factions.
“On Monday morning, 72 Lockheed Martin technicians left,” a high-ranking Iraqi military official told AFP, while a second confirmed the move.
“The technical team in charge of maintenance of the F-16s left the Balad base for Irbil,” the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, the first source added, requesting anonymity.
Baghdad had sent its national security adviser Qassim Al-Araji to the Balad base last week to try to reassure the American firm, days after the latest salvo.
Tahsin Al-Khafaji, spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, said Lockheed Martin would “continue to advise the Iraqi air force, even remotely,” citing contractual obligations.
The United States has provided Iraq with 34 F-16s, all stationed at Balad. It has also trained Iraqi pilots, while American contractors have been in charge of the fleet’s upkeep.
Irbil was long considered safer than the rest of Iraq, but the situation has changed recently and Washington has deployed a C-RAM rocket defense system as well as Patriot missiles there, as it has done in Baghdad to protect its troops and diplomats.
In mid-April, pro-Iran fighters sent an explosives-packed drone crashing into Irbil airport in the first reported use of such a weapon against a base housing US troops in Iraq.
The Pentagon has warned that attacks against the US-led coalition rose in the first three months of this year.
“In Iraq, Iran-aligned militias increased their attacks targeting coalition positions and assets this quarter, prompting a temporary departure of US contractors supporting Iraq’s F-16 program,” it said in a report to Congress released earlier this month.


France says a great deal still needs to be done to revive Iran nuclear deal

In this handout photo taken released on May 1, 2021 by the EU Delegation in Vienna shows delegation members from the parties to the Iran nuclear deal - Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and Iran. (AFP/File Photo)
In this handout photo taken released on May 1, 2021 by the EU Delegation in Vienna shows delegation members from the parties to the Iran nuclear deal - Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and Iran. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 1 min 35 sec ago

France says a great deal still needs to be done to revive Iran nuclear deal

In this handout photo taken released on May 1, 2021 by the EU Delegation in Vienna shows delegation members from the parties to the Iran nuclear deal - Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and Iran. (AFP/File Photo)

PARIS: France's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that a great deal still needs to be done to revive the Iran nuclear deal in a very short timeframe.

It said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran will need to negotiate an extension to their technical bilateral accord if Tehran does not return to compliance by the end of the initial deal.

The comments came a day after a top European Union diplomat said on Monday that negotiations in Vienna between world powers and Iran were “moving into a crucial stage” and that the next few weeks would be critical to saving the 2015 deal.

“I am optimistic, there is a window of opportunity that will stay open for a couple of weeks, (until) end of the month,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.

“But a lot of work is needed, time is limited and I hope that the negotiations will enter into a phase of nonstop (talks) in Vienna,” he added following a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

World powers have held high-level talks since April in Vienna, Austria aimed at bringing the US back into the deal, with both sides signaling a willingness to work out the major stumbling blocks.