Canadian held in China faces execution

Sunday, August 6, 2006

China is planning to execute a Canadian national next week according to his wife who is seeking help from the Canadian government to free the man.

Huseyin Celil, a Uighur Muslim who immigrated to Canada as a refugee, had been a dissident in China in the 1990s urging greater religious freedom. He was arrested last decade for trying to start a political party and fled China after breaking out of prison. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a Chinese court for his role in the anti-government movement. China also claims Celil was involved in a political assassination, a charge he and his family deny. Celil settled in Canada as a refugee and eventually gained citizenship. He was visiting his wife's family in Kyrgyzstan in March when he was arrested at the request of the Chinese. He was extradited to China in June.

His wife, Kamila Talendibaeva of Burlington, Ontario was told by Calil's sister, who lives in China, that Calil was being held in a prison in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang and may be executed as early as August 10.

"I can't get any information. I can't get any news and I'm just crying all the time thinking of him," Talendibaeva told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

A Canadian official says that Ottawa has been in contact with China and received assurances that Celil will not be executed.

"In the past 48 hours or so, Chinese government officials at a senior level assured our embassy officials in Beijing that they would not seek the death penalty against Mr. Celil," Conservative Member of Parliament Jason Kenney told CBC News.