China rejects concerns about Muslim activist

Thu Feb 8, 2007 5:11 AM EST

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Thursday Canadian diplomats had no right to be present at a court hearing for a Chinese Uighur Muslim accused of terrorism who was awarded joint Canandian citizenship two years ago.

Yu Shanjiang, also known as Huseyincan Celil, fled China in the 1990s and traveled last year to Uzbekistan, where he was detained and then extradited back to China on terrorism charges.

China has not recognized his Canadian citizenship, obtained in 2005.

"Because Yu Shanjiang is a citizen of China, the consular agreement between China and Canada does not apply in this case," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who upset China last year with blunt criticism of its human rights record, was irritated this week that Canadian diplomats did not attend the court hearing in Urumqi, capital of the remote farwestern Xinjiang Uighur region, an official said in Ottawa.

China has waged a harsh campaign in recent years against what it says are violent separatists and Islamic extremists pressing for an independent East Turkestan in Xinjiang.

"Yu Shanjiang is a key member of the East Turkestan Movement, an international terrorist organization designated by the United Nations," ministry spokeswoman Jiang said.

"He is suspected to have organized a series of violent terrorist activities."

Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs account for 8 million of the 19 million people in Xinjiang.