Uighur website manager Gheyrat Niyaz is serving a sentence of 15 years on charges of endangering state security. Urumqi police arrested Niyaz, who managed and edited the Uighur-language news website Uighurbiz, in October 2009.
Xinjiang security officials arrested Niyaz, who is sometimes referred to as Hailaite Niyazi, in his home in the regional capital, Urumqi, according to international news reports. He was convicted of endangering state security and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
According to reports, Niyaz was punished because of an August 2, 2009, interview with Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), a Chinese-language magazine based in Hong Kong. In the interview, Niyaz said authorities had not taken steps to prevent violence before ethnic unrest in July 2009 in China’s far-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Niyaz, who once worked for the state newspapers Xinjiang Legal News and Xinjiang Economic Daily, managed and edited the website Uighurbiz until June 2009. A statement posted on the website quoted Niyaz’s wife as saying that although he had given interviews to international media, he had no malicious intentions.
Authorities blamed local and international Uighur sites for fueling the violence between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region.
According to the Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Right Defenders, Niyaz is held in Changji Prison in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
CPJ called the Urumqi Public Security Bureau in late 2019 but no one answered the phone. In late 2021, CPJ called that bureau again, but the number was out of service. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Prison Administration and the Xinjiang People’s Procuratorate did not respond to CPJ’s email requesting information about Niyaz’s health and status in late 2021.