Uighur website manager Gheyrat Niyaz, sometimes referred to as Hailaite Niyazi, is serving a sentence of 15 years after being convicted on charges of endangering state security. Police arrested Niyaz, who managed and edited the Uighur-language news website Uighurbiz, in his home in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region’s capital of Urumqi in October 2009.
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 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.
The Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Right Defenders reported in 2011 that Niyaz is held in Changji Prison in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
CPJ sent messages in September 2022 to the Xinjiang governmental service and the Xinjiang region prison administration via messaging app seeking information about Niyaz’s whereabouts but did not receive a response.