WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of State called for the release of Chinese scholar Ilham Tohti on Thursday, a day after he was formally arrested by Chinese authorities on charges of fomenting separatism.
"We are deeply concerned by reports that Chinese authorities have decided to formally arrest economics professor Ilham Tohti after detaining him for more than a month without access to his family or attorney. We call on Chinese authorities to release Mr. Tohti and to guarantee him the protections and freedoms to which he’s entitled under China’s international human rights commitments, including the freedom of expression."
The 44-year-old scholar is a champion for the Chinese Uighur ethnic minority group and an outspoken critic of Chinese policy in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in western China.
He was detained six weeks ago but only formally arrested Wednesday.