Authorities imprisoned Azat and another journalist, Nureli Obul, in an apparent crackdown on managers of Uighur-language websites. Azat was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Obul to three years on charges of endangering state security, according to international news reports. The Uyghur American Association reported that the pair were sentenced in July 2010.
Their websites, which were shut down by the government, published news articles and discussion groups on Uighur issues. The New York Times cited friends and relatives of the journalists who said they were prosecuted because they failed to respond quickly enough when they were ordered to delete content that discussed the difficulties of life in Xinjiang.
According to the Uyghur PEN Center, Obul was released after completing his sentence. CPJ was unable to determine where Azat was being held as of late 2018. As is the case with many Uighur prisoners, the government releases little information.