China denies Swedish Uighur spied for Beijing

BEIJING: China today hit back at accusations it was spying on exiled dissident groups, after a man was jailed in Sweden for collecting information about Uighur expatriates on Beijing’s behalf.

“This kind of accusation is totally groundless and has ulterior motives,”

foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters, without giving any further details.

Babur Maihesuti, a 62-year-old Uighur man who had been living in Sweden for 13 years as a political refugee, was sentenced by a Stockholm court to 16 months in prison on Monday for spying on expatriates from the mainly Muslim minority. Uighurs have accused Beijing of decades of religious, cultural and political oppression — claims the government denies.

Maihesuti was found guilty of “aggravated illegal espionage activity”. The Swedish court found that btween January 2008 and June 2009 he collected personal info rmation about exiled Uighurs, including details on their health, travel and political involvement, and passed it on to Beijing. He had given the data to a Chinese diplomat and journalist who, on assignment from the nation’s intelligence service, carried out operations in Sweden for Beijing, the court said.