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China decries foreign interference in detained academic case

Published on Jan 17, 2014 5:20 PM

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China decried what it said was interference in its internal affairs on Friday after both the United States and European Union voiced concern over the detention of a high-profile ethnic Uighur academic from the restive western region of Xinjiang.

Police in Beijing on Wednesday seized Ilham Tohti, a prominent economist who has championed the rights of the Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang, at his home and his whereabouts were unknown, his wife and close friend told Reuters.

"Ilham is suspected of breaking the law. Currently, China's relevant departments are handling the case according to law," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing. "China's law is sacred and inviolable," he added. "We oppose any country or party using human rights as a pretext to criticise another country's normal law enforcement and interfere in its internal politics and judicial sovereignty."

The U.S. State Department on Thursday called on China to account for the whereabouts of Prof Tohti and at least six of his students who were also taken into custody and guarantee their rights, including freedom of expression.

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