Moroccan court rules in China’s favor to extradite Uyghur accused of ‘terrorism’

Rights groups say Idris Hasan will likely be subjected to torture in China.
By Ehsan Azigh
Moroccan court rules in China’s favor to extradite Uyghur accused of ‘terrorism’ Idris Hasan in an undated photo.
Amnesty International

A Moroccan court on Thursday approved an extradition request by China for a Uyghur accused of terrorism and detained five months ago based on an Interpol warrant that the international police organization later withdrew.

Idris Hasan, 33, who in Turkey had worked as a translator to document crimes against Uyghurs in Xinjiang in western China, was arrested at Casablanca’s airport on July 19 after he flew there to seek asylum. He was instead taken to a prison near the town of Tiflet after Interpol issued a red notice to member countries seeking his capture.

Chinese authorities have accused Hasan of being a member of the terrorist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and actively participating in activities within terrorist organizations. But after extensive media reports on the case, Interpol suspended its notice in August, citing its bylaws forbidding persecution on political, religious, or ethnic grounds.

The Court of Cassation in Morocco ruled on the extradition request without weighing the merits of the accusations of terrorism, according to Safeguard Defenders, a human rights group monitoring the case. Morocco has no internal legal procedures to challenge the decision.

“We are deeply disappointed the Moroccan Court of Cassation decided to ignore the extensive evidence provided by defense counsel of the certain torture, unfair trial and high risk of enforced disappearance Idris Hasan is exposed to if extradited to the PRC [People’s Republic of China], especially after the withdrawal of the red notice by Interpol highlighted the political grounds of his persecution,” Safeguard Defenders said in a statement on Thursday.

The group said that Interpol failed to provide the court with the new information it reportedly received after Hasan’s detention that led it to revisit its red notice.

Instead, the case was allowed to proceed under the terms of a bilateral extradition treaty between the Morocco and China. The treaty was signed in May 2016 as part of a strategic partnership framework between the two countries, which included agreements to work together in economic, financial, industrial and travel sectors.

Laura Harth, campaign director of Safeguard Defenders, told RFA that the court’s judgment may be tied to the importance of that treaty to Morocco.

Hasan’s legal team has not yet received a written judgment with the reasons why the court decided not to weigh the evidence of the risks he faced in China, Harth said.

“We don't know yet why the court decided to ignore this,” she said.

Human rights groups said that international law prohibits refoulement, the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution.

“Moroccan officials have decided to deport Uyghur Idris Hasan. His imminent extradition is equivalent to refoulement as Idris is at grave risk of facing torture upon his return to China,” London-based Amnesty International tweeted in response to the court ruling.

Since 2017, Beijing has detained about 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in a vast network of internment camps in China’s far-western Xinjiang region. China has angrily rejected criticism of its practices in the region, which the U.S. and a handful of European countries have labelled a genocide. Chinese authorities contend the camps are vocational training centers designed to combat religious extremism and terrorism.

Hasan, also known as Yidiresi Aishan, moved to Turkey in 2012 where he worked as a computer engineer and lived with his wife and three children. He provided translation services for members from the Uyghur exile community in their dealings with local authorities, according to Safeguard Defenders.

Hasan, who holds Chinese nationality and a Turkish residency permit, also was active in a Uyghur diaspora newspaper in Turkey, helping activists with media outreach, collecting testimonies on atrocities in Xinjiang, and serving as a public speaker at Uyghur diaspora events.

He was detained three times by Turkish authorities between 2016 and 2018 and held for several months. Afraid of being deported to China, the computer engineer tried to leave Turkey three times prior to his arrest at the Casablanca airport on July 19.

In August, Beijing requested that Moroccan authorities “provisionally arrest the fugitive Aishan Yidiresi with a view to extradition and keep him in custody until the extradition is completed.”

Four right experts who work for the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva called on the Moroccan government to block the court’s ruling because of the risks Hasan would face in China.

“As an asylum seeker in Morocco, Mr. Aishan should be protected from any form of extradition or forced return to China, until his refugee status is decided,” they said in a statement.

Safeguard Defenders and Mena Rights Group, a Geneva-based group that focuses on the protection of human rights in the Middle East and North Africa, have submitted an appeal to the U.N. Committee Against Torture, requesting interim measures to stop the extradition from taking place.

“Morocco would be bound by such a decision from CAT, and we rest our hopes that they will issue such interim measures as a matter of urgency,” the statement said.

Translated by Mamatjan Juma for RFA's Uyghur Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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