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US presses China on prominent academic's detention

Published on Jan 17, 2014 9:42 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States has urged China to guarantee the freedoms of a prominent academic from the Uighur minority, saying his detention marked a trend of repression of peaceful criticism.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Thursday the United States was "deeply concerned" by the seizure of Ilham Tohti, a Beijing-based economist who has criticised China's treatment of the mostly Muslim Uighur community concentrated in the western region of Xinjiang.

"We call on Chinese authorities to immediately account for the whereabouts of Mr Tohti and his students and guarantee Mr Tohti and his students the protections and freedoms to which they are entitled under China's international human rights commitments, including the freedom of expression," Ms Psaki said in a statement.

Ms Psaki called the detention "part of a disturbing pattern" of arrests of lawyers, activists, journalists "and others who peacefully challenge official Chinese policies and actions."

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