China has indicted the outspoken Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti on charges of separatism, UK’s Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Prosecutors in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, where Tohti is held, announced his indictment in a statement posted online, the report said.
Once charged, conviction is all but certain, particularly in such a high-profile case, the paper noted. Separatism charges in theory carry the death penalty, though they usually result in imprisonment.
Tohti, who has been detained since January, was not informed of the latest move directly, his lawyer said, accusing authorities of “shocking” handling of the case and ignoring Tohti’s rights to a defense.
Supporters of Tohti, who is an economics professor, say he has not advocated independence for Xinjiang and that the case against him is retaliation for criticizing government policies and questioning official accounts of violence in or related to the northwestern region, the report said.
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