New documents have revealed that an extradition request from China for a Uighur man has moved forward within the Turkish legal system, with the man previously detained for 12 months and now awaiting trial, the Axios news website reported.
Enver Turdi, a Chinese citizen with Uighur roots, fled China in 2013 and arrived in Turkey on a tourist visa.
The Turkish government at the time officially welcomed Uighurs who had fled repression in China.
After Chinese officials refused to renew Turdi’s passport in 2015, his legal status in Turkey became questionable, the Axios report indicated.
Turkey and China signed a draft extradition treaty in 2017, but the Turkish parliament has not yet ratified it. Still, warming ties between China and Turkey have seen Ankara walk back some of its support for Uighur refugees, who now say Turkish police are interrogating them and accusing them of terrorism.
In 2017 Turdi was placed in a deportation facility for 12 months after being unable to produce valid residence documents.
Turkish security officials then interrogated him and claimed that he had been running a pro-Islamic State website, which he denied, and showed him a copy of his 2004 graduation photo, which Turdi says they could only have obtained from China.
His case was not sent to an immigration court but to a criminal court, where a trial is still pending.
Turdi’s lawyer obtained the Chinese extradition request, a 92-page dossier, in early 2020, the first time that Turdi says he knew for sure that the Chinese government was behind his troubles in Turkey.
The Chinese government accused Turdi of creating a pro-Islamic State website and participating in a terrorist organization. He denies these accusations.
The documents themselves aren’t formally marked as classified, but the Chinese government instructed Turkish officials to keep the case secret, writing, “The details of this case are classified, we ask the Turkish side to keep it confidential in accordance with local laws.”
The Chinese government has said its measures in Xinjiang are intended to fight terrorism and extremism, but academics and human rights groups say what’s happening is a cultural genocide on a scale not seen since World War II.