No Trial Yet for Jailed Uyghur Scholar, Says Lawyer

Last week, the shroud of silence around the case of detained Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti sparked fears that a secret trial had already been held, and a plea from his wife for information. Now, the New York Times’ Chris Buckley and Edward Wong report that no secret trial has taken place according to lawyer Li Fangping, who should now finally be allowed access to his client.

“They told me there was no trial last week,” Mr. Li said in a telephone interview from Urumqi, where he had traveled from Beijing in a quest to see Mr. Tohti and clarify what was happening. “The case was sent to the Urumqi city procuratorate last Thursday, and they’re now considering whether to prosecute.”

[…] Chinese prosecutors and courts rarely overturn charges against critics of the Communist Party, and if Mr. Tohti is tried and found guilty of inciting separatism, as seems likely, he could face punishment ranging from 10 years in prison to the death penalty.

[…] “We should be allowed to see him, but they say that this case is an especially sensitive one concerning a threat to national security,” Mr. Li said. “I’ll keep waiting here, in case there’s a decision in the next day or two.” [Source]

Rights researcher Joshua Rosenzweig commented on Twitter that state security no longer provides a legal basis for obstructing access: