Wife of man in Chinese prison hopeful PM will get answers on husband's case


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November 16, 2006 - 0:23 pm

Huseyin JililTORONTO (CP) - The wife of a Canadian citizen held in a Chinese jail on alleged links to terrorism is hopeful Prime Minister Stephen Harper can shed some light on her husband's condition.

Huseyincan Celil was arrested while in Uzbekistan last March and extradited to his native China in June, where he may face the death penalty for speaking out in favour of rights for the minority Uighur population. His wife and mother of their four children, Kamila Telendibaeva, has not heard from him since.

"I hope Stephen Harper is going to talk about my husband's case and to ask for his release because he is a Canadian citizen," Telendibaeva said from her Burlington, Ont., home.

"Did they take him to the courts? Did they make a decision yet? . . Is he alive or dead? We don't know."

After China had abruptly called off a private meeting between the two country's leaders earlier this week, Harper and Chinese President Hu Jintao are now expected to meet during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.

Despite China's assertion that it will not entertain discussions about its human-rights situation, Harper has indicated he will raise Celil's case.

Both Telendibaeva and the Canadian government have been kept in the dark, as China has not revealed where Celil, who has been denied consular access, is being held.

"They can do anything in China . . . They are not giving any information to the Canadian government or even his family. I am getting worried about him," Telendibaeva said.

Celil's family says they fear he is the victim of religious persecution, as he has fought for the rights of the Uighur ethnic minority in China.

While the ultimate goal is his release from prison, Telendibaeva said China will likely be a tough negotiator and is hoping at the very least to get some answers regarding his health and well-being.

She'd also like to be able to speak to her husband by mail or telephone, or have Canadian authorities to be able to meet with him.

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