Detainees hold Uighurs, saying China has a secret prison in Dubai

A young Chinese woman said she was detained for eight days with at least two Uighurs in a secret Chinese-run detention facility in Dubai. This may be the first evidence that China operates so-called “black sites” across national borders. ..

A 26-year-old woman, Wu Huang, fled to avoid handing over to China because her fiancé was considered a Chinese dissident. Wu told The Associated Press that he had been kidnapped from a hotel in Dubai and detained by Chinese authorities in a villa converted into a prison, where he saw and heard two other Uighur prisoners.

She said she was questioned and threatened in Chinese and forced to sign legal documents accusing her fiancée of harassing her. She was finally released on June 8 and is currently seeking asylum in the Netherlands.

“Black sites” are common in China, but Wu’s account is the only testimony known to experts that Beijing has set up in another country. Such sites reflect how China can use its international influence to detain or bring back desired citizens from abroad, including dissidents, suspected corruption, and ethnic minorities such as Uighurs. ..

The AP was unable to individually verify or disprove Wu’s account and to determine the exact location of the black site. However, the reporter saw and heard supporting evidence, including a stamp on her passport, a telephone recording of a Chinese official asking her question and text message she sent from prison to a minister helping the couple.

China and Dubai did not respond to multiple phone calls and comment requests.

Yu-Jie Chen, an assistant professor at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, said he had never heard of China’s secret prison in Dubai and said such facilities in other countries were rare. But she also did everything she could to bring back selected citizens, both through formal means such as signing extradition treaties and informal means such as revoking visas and putting pressure on families. He said it was in line with China’s attempt to do so.

“[China]wasn’t really interested in reaching out until recent years,” said Chen, who is tracking China’s international legal action.

Chen said that Uighurs in particular have been handed over or returned to China. China has detained most Muslim minorities on suspicion of terrorism, even in relatively harmless acts such as prayer. Wu and her fiancé, 19-year-old Wang Jing-gyu, are not Uighurs, but the Han Chinese, the majority of China.

Dubai has a history as a place where Uighurs were cross-examined and deported to China, and activists say Dubai itself is associated with secret cross-examination. Radha Stirling, the legal advocate who founded the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, said he worked with about 12 people, including citizens of Canada, India and Jordan, but not China, who reported detention at UAE villas. rice field.

“There is no doubt that the UAE has detained people on behalf of the foreign governments they are allied with,” Sterling said. “I don’t think I’ll shrug at the request of such a strong ally.”

However, Patrick Celos, now a former US ambassador to Qatar and now a strategic adviser to the Gulf International Forum, called the claim “totally out of character” by Emiratis.

On May 27, Mr. Wu said he had been taken to the police station by the Dubai police for three days after being questioned by Chinese authorities at the hotel. On the third day, a Chinese man who introduced himself as Lee Xu Han visited. He told her that he was working at the Chinese Consulate in Dubai and asked her if she had received money from a foreign group to act against China.

Li Xuhang is listed as Consul General on the website of the Chinese Consulate in Dubai. The consulate did not return multiple calls to solicit comments or talk directly to Mr Lee.

Wu said he was handcuffed and put in a black Toyota. Thirty minutes later, she said she was taken to a three-story white villa where the rooms were converted into individual cells.

Wu was taken to his cell with heavy metal doors, beds, chairs, and white fluorescent lights that were lit day and night. She said she was threatened by being asked several times in Chinese.

She said she saw another prisoner, a Uighur woman, while waiting to use the bathroom once. The second time I heard a Uighur woman shout in Chinese, “I don’t want to go back to China, I want to go back to Turkey.” Wu identified the woman as a Uighur based on her unique appearance and accent, she said.

The guards also gave her a phone and SIM card and instructed her to call Rev. Bobhu, her fiancé and head of China Aid, a Christian nonprofit that helped the couple. Did.

The king confirmed to AP that Wu called and asked for his whereabouts. Mr. Fu said he had received at least four or five calls during this time, but several times with an unknown phone number in Dubai. The AP also confirmed the disjointed and unstable text messages sent to Fu at the time.

She said the last thing Wu’s POWs requested of her was to sign a document testifying that Wang was harassing her.

“I was really scared and forced to sign the document,” she told AP.

After Wu was released, she flew to Ukraine, where she reunited with the king. The couple fled to the Netherlands again after threats from Chinese police that the king could face a surrender from Ukraine. Wu said he missed his hometown.

“We found that the people who were fooling us were Chinese and that our compatriots were hurting our compatriots,” she said.

Staff reporters Nomaan Merchant and Matt Lee contributed to this report from Washington, DC.