Activists Call for China to Free Uighur Academic
Chinese activists have started a petition calling for the immediate release of detained scholar Ilham Tohti, a prominent critic of Beijing's harsh treatment of Uighurs in western China.
Tohti, himself a Uighur, was taken by police during a raid on his home Wednesday. Authorities have not announced any charges against him, though China's foreign ministry says he is "under suspicion of committing crimes."
A petition posted on the website of Woeser, a Tibetan activist, called for China to either free Tohti or provide proof of wrongdoing. As of Tuesday, over 1,100 people had signed the petition, including many in China.
Meanwhile, Chinese state media have published several editorials slamming Tohti. The Communist Party's Global Times on Saturday accused him of advocating separatism in China's Xinjiang province and "attempting to find a moral excuse for terrorists."
The 45-year-old Tohti, an economics professor at the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing, has been detained or harassed several times in the past because of his views.
Tohti told VOA in November plain-clothes police rammed his car, took his phone, and threatened to kill him because of his comments to the media.
Russians Study Militant Video Threatening Olympics
Russian security forces are studying a video posted by an Islamic militant group that claims responsibility for last month's suicide bombings in Volgograd, and threatens attacks at the upcoming Olympics in Sochi.
The video was posted online Sunday by a militant group from the predominately Muslim region of Dagestan. It is unclear when the video was made.
In the video, two Russian-speaking men warn President Vladimir Putin to expect what they call a "present" at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The video says the two men are the suicide bombers who attacked Volgograd last month, killing 34 people. There is no independent confirmation of that claim.
The U.S. military said Monday it will make available air and naval support to the Russian government as it makes security preparations for the Olympics. A Pentagon spokesman said in a statement that support including two U.S. Navy ships in the Black Sea will be available, if requested, "for all manner of contingencies" in consultation with the Russian government.
In another development, hotel workers in Sochi tell reporters they have seen wanted posters for a woman from Dagestan. She is described as a 22-year-old widow of a militant killed by Russian security forces last year. The posters say the woman ((identified as Ruzanna Ibragimova)) may be in or near Sochi and could be planning an attack.