China jails Burlington man 15 years - Unconfirmed News

By Christine Cox
The Hamilton Spectator
BURLINGTON (Sep 12, 2006)

Kamila Telendibaeva has received unconfirmed word that her husband, Muslim activist Huseyin Celil, has been sentenced to 15 years in a Chinese prison.

Celil, 37, is a Canadian citizen accused by the Chinese of being a terrorist. He was arrested in Uzbekistan in March 2006 and extradited to China in June.

Telendibaeva says Chinese police told her husband's sister that he was tried last month and received a 15-year sentence. Telendibaeva doesn't know if it's true or not, because she's heard nothing from Canadian officials.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Marie-Christine Lilkoff said the government is aware of the reports but does not have confirmation. She said there are ongoing communications with the Chinese government about the case "and we are making every effort to obtain consular access to Mr. Celil."

Telendibaeva, who gave birth last month to the couple's fourth child, plans to go to Ottawa to urge the Canadian government to take action.

"They are not doing anything for my husband," she said yesterday. "He's a Canadian, he was travelling on a Canadian passport. I'm very nervous. It's been almost four months and we don't have any news (from the government) about my husband ... They have to see him, they have to get access to him."

Celil had championed the cause of the Muslim Uyghur people.

Mohamed Tohti, president of the Uyghur Canadian Association, said the charges against Celil are bogus.

Tohti considers the information relayed by Celil's sister credible. He said Chinese police told her that Celil was being held in Bajianghu jail, a famous political jail in Urumqi. It's the first time since his extradition that Celil's exact location in China has been revealed.

Tohti said the Chinese deliberately released the information through a third party, rather than through the Canadian government.

"They ignored Canada from the beginning ... they denied his citizenship," Tohti said.



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