Halaite Niyaze was found guilty of “endangering national security” and sentenced following a one-day trial in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, said Ilham Tohti, an economist based in Beijing who is a friend of Niyaze. A man surnamed Wen who answered the phone at the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court’s criminal affairs department confirmed that Niyaze stood trial but said he could not confirm the verdict.
Long-standing tensions between Xinjiang’s Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group, and China’s Han Chinese majority flared into open violence in Urumqi in July 2009. The government — which accused overseas Uighur groups of plotting the violence, something they deny — said 197 people were killed. Hundreds of people were arrested, about two dozen were sentenced to death and many Uighurs remain unaccounted for and are believed to be in custody.