Uyghur activists convicted, sent to prison for their association with Washington-based reporter

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The former colleagues of an exiled Uyghur journalist, Kasim Kashgar, were imprisoned in China’s Xinjiang region on the allegations of having connections with a Washington-based reporter. Each of his accomplices was sentenced to at least seven years in prison, a report by the Voice of America stated on Wednesday.

Kashgar, a reporter working for VOA, claimed that he learned in May that his former colleagues Mirkamil Ahmed, Semet Ababekri, Abdukadir Rozi, Mehmut Abdukeyum and Akber Osman were convicted.

Mostly, covering Uyghur human rights issues for VOA claimed that the convicts or his former colleagues who worked with him at the language school from Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, were targeted because they knew him.

“Their ‘mistake’ was their past proximity to someone now affiliated with a US news agency covering Uyghur-related news,” Kashgar said. It is unclear when the convictions occurred, as no such data was published in that reference. Additionally, there is no clarity over the exact charges and accusations.

Kashgar also claimed that he came to know from his sources that they were being accused by him of becoming members of the World Uyghur Congress.

Kashgar said that his contacts with the WUC are limited to interviews related to the VOA’s coverage. Kashgar had fled China in 2017 for the United States. He started working for VOA in 2019. Earlier, he had also learned that the Chinese government had declared him a “key person involved in terrorism.” Although he has yet to clarify such claims.

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