Defying China, Malaysia releases Uighur detainees

OCTOBER 11, 2018 / 7:49 AM /

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia has freed from detention 11 ethnic Uighur Muslims who fled to the southeast Asian nation after a Thai jailbreak last year, and sent them to Turkey, their lawyer said on Thursday, in disregard of China’s request to hand them to Beijing.

The move is likely to strain ties with China, already tested since Mahathir Mohamad became prime minister after a stunning election victory in May and canceled more than $20 billion worth of projects awarded to Chinese companies.

Prosecutors in Muslim-majority Malaysia dropped charges against the Uighurs on humanitarian grounds and they arrived in Turkey after flying out of Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, their lawyer, Fahmi Moin, said.

“The charges were withdrawn because the attorney general’s chambers agreed to the (appeal) from our side,” he told Reuters.

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