China Sentences Son of Prominent Muslim Activist

A Chinese court has sentenced the son of a prominent Muslim activist to nine years in prison on charges that he engaged in secessionist activities. VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from Beijing.

The court in the far western Chinese city of Urumqi sentenced Ablikim Abdiriyim to prison Tuesday. Officials said he had instigated and engaged in secessionist activities.
The court accused him of spreading articles on the Internet promoting the secession of Xinjiang, a region that has been under Chinese control for centuries and is home to the Turkish-speaking ethnic Uighur people - most of whom are Muslims.

Ablikim is an ethnic Uighur and son of the exiled dissident Rebiya Kadeer. Kadeer had been jailed for five years on subversion charges before Chinese authorities - under U.S. pressure - sent her to the United States in 2005.

Speaking from her home in the United States, Kadeer told VOA she protests the sentencing of her son.

Kadeer says her son is innocent. She says he never engaged in political activities as the court charged.

International human rights activists have long criticized China for using the war on terror as an excuse to crack down on Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Advocates have condemned what they say is the Chinese government's harassment of Kadeer's relatives since her release.

Last month, the group Amnesty International said Ablikim had been beaten in prison and had been denied medical treatment.

Chinese officials have slapped tax evasion charges on two other sons.

U.S. embassy officials in Beijing had no comment Tuesday on Ablikim's sentencing.