Moroccan authorities have detained a Uighur activist in exile due to a Chinese terror order distributed by Interpol, according to information from the Moroccan police and a rights group that tracks people detained by China.
Activists fear that Yidiresi Aishan will be extradited to China and say the arrest has political momentum as part of a broader Chinese campaign to hunt down suspected dissidents outside its borders.
Morocco’s national security directorate said on Tuesday that a Chinese national was arrested after landing at Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport on July 20, upon arrival from Istanbul.
“[He] he was the subject of a red notice issued by Interpol for his alleged membership of an organization on the lists of terrorist organizations, ”said the management.
The red notice, the equivalent of being on Interpol’s most wanted list, was issued at the request of China, which was seeking his extradition, the management said, adding that Moroccan authorities notified Interpol and Chinese authorities of the arrest. , and the Chinese authorities The citizen was referred to the prosecution pending the extradition procedure.
Moroccan police did not publicly name the arrested man, but the non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders identified him as Aishan. The group specializes in cases of people detained by China.
Aishan, a 33-year-old computer engineer and father of three, has lived in Turkey since 2012, where he worked as a web designer and activist and has residency papers, according to his friend and colleague Abduweli Ayup. Aishan worked for an online newspaper of the Uighur diaspora and assisted other activists with media outreach and collecting testimonies of abuse in China’s Xinjiang province.
After repeated arrests in Turkey, Aishan left Istanbul for Casablanca on the night of July 19, Ayup said. Aishan called his wife on Saturday and said he was being deported, according to Ayup, who is in contact with Aishan’s family.
Interpol and the Chinese embassy in Morocco did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the arrest. The exact charges against him were unclear.
Morocco ratified an extradition treaty with China in 2017, among several such treaties that China has entered into in recent years.
China has described its widespread confinement of a million or more Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities as a “war on terror” after stabbings and bombings by a small number of Xinjiang native Uighur extremists. Investigators say that many innocent people have been detained for things like going abroad or attending religious gatherings.
Safeguard Defenders has asked Moroccan ambassadors in Washington and Brussels not to extradite Aishan. “It is not uncommon” for Chinese authorities to get Interpol red notices for Uighurs and other dissidents abroad, said Peter Dahlin of Safeguard Defenders.
In a similar case, a Chinese teenager claiming to be a permanent US resident was arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, in April while on his way to catch a flight. Chinese officials had sought out Wang Jingyu, a 19-year-old student, for his comments online about deadly border clashes between Chinese and Indian forces last year. The US state department called it a human rights concern. Wang was released in May and he and his fiancee fled to the Netherlands.