BEIJING: 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 on Thursday.
Ilham Tohti was taken to an unknown location by several dozen police on Wednesday along with his mother, his wife Guzaili Nu’er said, 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.
Tohti, 45, is an economist at a university in Beijing and has been critical of China’s policies toward 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.
“I asked [the police]where they had taken him, but they didn’t say a word,” she said.