China jails Muslim separatist

Huseyin Celil was found guilty of aiding the East Turkistan Liberation Movement.

    China's security services regularly crack down on activists in Xinjiang province [GALLO/GETTY]

    Celil was sentenced by the Intermediate People's Court in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, a majority Muslim area of northwest China.
     
    The region is home to an estimated eight million Uighurs, a Turkic, largely Muslim people who share linguistic and cultural ties with their Central Asian neighbours.
     
    Dual citizenship
     
    Celil has joint Canadian-Chinese citizenship as a result of obtaining asylum in Canada after fleeing China in the mid-1990s.
     
    China, however, has refused to acknowledge his dual citizenship and has rejected Canadian requests for consular access to him.
     
    A spokesman for the Canadian embassy in Beijing said Canadian diplomats had not been allowed into the courtroom but had been outside when Thursday's verdict was announced.
     

    Muslim Uighurs are a majority in China's north-western Xinjiang province [GALLO/GETTY]

    "The Canadian government is reviewing the verdict and will have a reaction in due course," the spokesman said.
     
    "We continue to be in very close contact with the family and offering them what assistance we can at this time."
     
    It is not known if Celil will appeal against his sentence.
     
    He was arrested in Uzbekistan in March 2006 while visiting his family and was then extradited to China.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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