UK & World News
Muslim Academic 'Shackled' After Terror Attack
A Muslim academic arrested in China for alleged separatism offences has claimed he was shackled and denied food following a terrorist attack in March.
Ilham Tohti, a member of the Uighur ethnic group, was arrested in January and held in a detention centre in the city of Urumqi in the Xinjian autonomous region after he allegedly criticised the country's treatment of Uighurs.
Speaking through his lawyer, Mr Tohti said that after a terrorist attack on a train station in Kunming in March which killed 29 people, he was given just one and a half glasses of water to live on per day and refused halal food according to his religion.
The Chinese government blamed extremist Uighur terrorists for the attack when eight knife-wielding men and women stabbed passengers at random at Kunming train station in Yunnan, a western province gripped by unrest.
His lawyer, Li Fangping, told Sky News his client denied the charge of "separating the country".
He said: "His goal has always been to promote friendship and harmony between Han Chinese (another Chinese ethnic group) and Uighur Muslims to achieve a better autonomy of Xinjiang."
Mr Tohti's wife and two young sons are still living in Beijing, while his oldest daughter is now studying in the US.
His lawyer denied rumours his client had received a secret trial.
Xinjiang's Uighurs believe their freedoms, culture and religion are being eroded by authorities and are fighting for autonomy from the rest of the country.
Chinese authorities accuse them of having ties to Islamist terrorists abroad but there has been little evidence provided to support the claim.