East Turkestan: Canadian Held in China Facing Execution, Wife Says
Kamila Talendibaeva of Burlington, Ont., said her husband, Huseyin Celil, is being held in a facility in western China. She believes he could be executed as early as Aug. 10.
"I can't get any information. I can't get any news and I'm just crying all the time thinking of him," Talendibaeva told the CBC.
Canadian officials confirmed they have been in contact with the Chinese government.
"In the past 48 hours or so, Chinese government officials at a senior level assured our embassy officials in Beijing that they would not seek the death penalty against Mr. Celil," Conservative MP Jason Kenney said.
Talendibaeva said her husband, a Uighur Muslim, has long been an advocate for greater religious freedom in China.
Accused in assassination
In the mid-1990s, Celil, 37, was arrested in China on charges of establishing a political party, his wife said. Chinese officials also allege Celil helped assassinate a political leader in Kyrgyzstan. His family and lawyer deny the accusation.
Celil escaped prison and was granted refugee status in Turkey in 2001. He then came to Canada, where he became a citizen and settled in Burlington. Meanwhile, a court in China sentenced him to death in absentia for his alleged anti-government activities.
In March 2006, Celil was visiting family in Uzbekistan when he was arrested and extradited to China. Chris McLeod, Celil's lawyer, called on the federal government to step in and secure his client's safe return.
"This is really a state to state operation that has to occur. China has to fulfill its international obligations to Canada Canada has to deal with China," McLeod said.