The son of prominent U.S.-based Chinese Muslim activist's was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison on subversion charges.
Ablikim Abdureyim was sentenced in Urumqi, capital of the Muslim Xinjiang region in China's far west, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The government says it is fighting an Islamic separatist movement in the area.
Abdureyim's mother, Rebiya Kadeer, was once one of China's most prominent businesswomen but became a critic of the communist government's treatment of Uighurs, Turkic-speaking Muslims in Xinjiang.
She was detained in 1999 and sentenced to eight years in prison, but was allowed to leave for the United States in 2005.
Kadeer said neither the Chinese government nor the court had informed her of the sentence. She denounced the trial process and Abdureyim's conviction, saying he was innocent.
"They would not appoint a lawyer for him and didn't give him an opportunity to defend himself, and they held the hearing in secret," Kadeer said in a telephone interview from her home in Washington. "On what basis are they convicting my son?"
Abdureyim was convicted of "instigating and engaging in secessionist activities," Xinhua said.
The Urumqi court convicted him of spreading secessionist articles over the Internet, instigating the public against the government and writing articles that distorted China's human rights and ethnic policies, the report said.
The Washington-based Uyghur American Association, of which Kadeer is president, said in November that during his detention Abdureyim had been carried out of the Tianshan Detention Center in Urumqi on a stretcher, and that the group feared he may have been "beaten or tortured."
Abdureyim's two brothers were convicted of tax evasion last year.
Alim Abdureyim was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined 500,000 yuan (US$62,500, 50,000 EUR), while his older brother, Kahar, was fined 100,000 yuan (US$12,500, 10,000 EUR) but not jailed.
Kadeer said the charges are all false, and that her sons are innocent.
China says it is fighting an Islamic separatist movement in Xinjiang, where Uighurs are the dominant ethnic group. They refer to the territory as "East Turkestan."
Beijing blames Uighur separatists for sporadic bombings and other violence. The government says the separatists are linked to al-Qaida, but diplomats and foreign experts doubt that.