Award-winning photojournalist 'officially arrested' in Xinjiang

Award-winning Chinese photojournalist Lu Guang has produced numerous photos which examine the dark side of China's economic development and societal changes. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - The award-winning Chinese photojournalist who vanished last month in the restive north-west region of Xinjiang was "officially arrested" by local authorities, his wife said on Wednesday (Dec 12).

The wife of Mr Lu Guang wrote on Twitter that police in Kashgar had called and confirmed that her husband had been arrested, though no charges were mentioned.

"Currently, the family is entrusting lawyers to get in touch with the office handling this matter," Ms Xu Xiaoli posted.

She has not yet received any official paperwork regarding his arrest and does not have permission to see him, said Ms Xu, who had previously said that she had heard of his detention through a friend.

Kashgar police told AFP they had no "relevant information".

Mr Lu's 25-year career as a photographer has produced many award-winning photos which examine the dark side of China's economic development and societal changes, documenting industrial pollution, worker abuse, AIDS-plagued villages, and the illegal export of African timber to China.

A World Press Photo awards winner, Mr Lu had planned to travel from Xinjiang to south-western Sichuan on Nov 5 and meet a friend, who was unable to reach him, his wife said in an earlier Twitter post.

Ms Xu said she lost contact with him on the night of Nov 3 when he was in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, a heavily policed region where the authorities are accused of running a network of internment camps.

Mr Lu, who lives in the United States, was visiting the region as a tourist and to teach and interact with local photographers, Ms Xu said from New York, where she resides.

Xinjiang, home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority, has undergone a security crackdown prompted by clashes that have killed hundreds in recent years.

Up to a million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking minority groups have been placed in political re-education camps in the region, according to estimates cited by a United Nations panel.

Foreign journalists travelling to the region are frequently detained and followed by police to prevent and obstruct reporting on the internment camps and treatment of Uighurs.

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