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Pensioner jailed for spying on Uighurs

AFP/The Local · 8 Mar 2010, 14:35

Published: 08 Mar 2010 14:35 GMT+01:00

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The man, identified in court documents as Swedish citizen Babur Maihesuti, was found guilty of "aggravated illegal espionage activity", the Stockholm district court said in a statement.

Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Central Asian people residing in northwest China's Xinjiang region, have accused Beijing of decades of religious, cultural and political oppression.

From January 2008 until June 2009, Maihesuti had collected personal information about exiled Uighurs, including details on their health, travel and political involvement, and passed it on to Beijing, the court found.

He had given the information to a Chinese diplomat and a Chinese journalist who, on assignment from the Chinese intelligence service, carried out operations in Sweden for the Chinese state.

"The activity has taken place in secret through a special system of telephone calls, (and) was also deceptive since the man did not tell the Uighurs he was dealing with he was working for the Chinese state," the court said.

The court ruled that the espionage was especially serious since Maihesuti had infiltrated the World Uighur Congress and the information passed on "could cause significant damage to Uighurs in and outside China."

There was also a danger, the court said, that by opening the door for a large power like China to spy on its nationals in Sweden, Beijing could conceivably use the network in the future for other kinds of espionage as well.

"The crime is especially egregious due to the fact that the espionage served a large power that does not fully respect human rights," the court said.

Story continues below…

Maihesuti had claimed he had been commissioned by the World Uighur Congress to contact the Chinese diplomat and journalist to conduct secret negotiations with China, and that he had also been trying to recuperate a large sum of money owed to him by the Chinese state.

The court however did not believe his account, instead basing its verdict on what it described as "strong" prosecution evidence, including wire-tapped phone conversations and witness accounts.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:28 March 8, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Sweden should ask China for what use did they need/do with the information that was passed to them, be it voluntarily, or involuntarily. Highly unlikely, I'm sure.
18:28 March 8, 2010 by Audrian
As sweden is heaven for exiles, the number of countries spying on the activities of refugees in Sweden can be many!
19:19 March 8, 2010 by Göran Eklund
What happened to the Guantanamo Uighurs? Are they in Albania or Sweden?
16:41 March 9, 2010 by Hemulen

So you are saying that the Swedish government has jailed one of its own citizens as a revenge against the Chinese government jailing one its own citizens more than ten years ago? That makes absolutely no sense what so ever.
09:28 March 10, 2010 by ocattoji

It may or may not be a revenge, but the similarities do make you wonder.

Both were charged and then sent to jail for the crime of acquiring information and passing it on to the "enemy" side.

If this is not revenge, it certainly is double standard.
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