China to execute Canadian: human rights group

CTV.ca News Staff

A Canadian man held in a Chinese prison could be executed by Thursday, Amnesty International fears.

The organization has unconfirmed reports Huseyin Celil, of Burlington, Ont., will be put to death for alleged terrorist activities.

Celil, 37, was arrested in Uzbekistan in March and was extradited in June to China, which refused to recognize the Canadian citizenship he obtained last year, Amnesty International said.

The Chinese government on Wednesday denied Celil will be put to death by Thursday, claiming his trial is still not over.

Celil, a political dissident who fled China in the mid-1990s and came to Canada in 2001 as a refugee, has been sentenced to death in absentia in China.

According to reports, he championed the cause of the Muslim Uygur people in Xinjiang province, an area taken over by the Chinese government more than 50 years ago.

China accuses Celil of taking part in a terrorist attack on a government delegation in Xinjiang in 2000 and of murdering an Uygur in Kyrgyzstan, an Uzbek news agency reported in June.

"(Celil) is a Chinese citizen suspected of having taken part in East Turkestan terrorist activities," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters by telephone.

"The case is being handled according to law and no verdict has been reached yet."

Ambra Dickie, a Canadian foreign affairs spokesperson, said there are ongoing communications between the Canadian and Chinese government regarding Celil.

"We continue to make every effort to confirm Mr. Celil's well-being and to ensure he is afforded due process and that his rights are protected," Dickie told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

"Chinese authorities continue to maintain that they will not seek the death penalty."

Canada has formally requested information on Celil's exact whereabouts and is seeking immediate consular access.

Celil's wife, Kamila, has not seen her husband since he was arrested in March while they were visiting Uzbekistan.

She said every day their three children ask where he is.

An Amnesty International spokesperson said the organization has put out an Urgent Action call.

With files from The Canadian Press

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