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China detains prominent Uighur academic

Published on Jan 16, 2014 4:33 PM
A file picture of University professor, blogger, and member of the Muslim Uighur minority, Ilham Tohti. Police in China have reportedly detained, Tohti, 45, an outspoken critic of government policy towards the mostly Muslim minority.--PHOTO: AFP 

BEIJING (AFP) - China has criminally detained a prominent Uighur academic and outspoken critic of government policy towards the mostly Muslim minority for "violating the law", it said Thursday.

Ilham Tohti was taken to an unknown location by several dozen police on Wednesday along with his mother, his wife Guzaili Nu'er told AFP, adding that police had confiscated their mobile phones and computers.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that Tohti had been "criminally detained" because he was "under suspicion of committing crimes and violating the law", suggesting he is likely to face criminal charges. No details were provided.

Mr Tohti, 45, is an economist at a university in Beijing and has been critical of China's policies towards Uighurs, who are concentrated in the far western region of Xinjiang, which is regularly hit by unrest. Police did not carry out any legal procedures while forcibly detaining Tohti in front of his two young children, his wife said.

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