China denies imminent execution of Uighur-Canadian
BEIJING, Aug 9 (Reuters) China denied today a report that it was about to execute a Uighur-Canadian activist it accuses of terrorism, saying his trial was not yet over.
China has waged a harsh campaign in recent years against what it says are violent separatists and Islamic extremists pressing for an independent nation of ''East Turkestan'' in its far-northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs account for eight million of the 19 million people in Xinjiang.
Huseyincan Celil, who fled China in the 1990s, was due to be executed on or before tomorrow for ''separatist or terrorist activities'', Amnesty International said in an emailed statement.
China accuses Huseyincan of taking part in a terrorist attack on a government delegation in Xinjiang in 2000 and of murdering a Uighur in Kyrgyzstan, an Uzbek news agency said in June.
Huseyincan, 37, was arrested in Uzbekistan in March and was extradited in June to China, which refused to recognise his Canadian citizenship obtained last year, London-based Amnesty said.
''Huseyincan is a Chinese citizen suspected of having taken part in East Turkestan terrorist activities,'' a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
''The case is being handled according to law and no verdict has been reached yet,'' he said in a prepared brief statement read to Reuters by telephone.
Canada has tried to obtain further information on Huseyincan's case from China but has been unsuccessful, Amnesty said.
REUTERS DKA PM1655