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Published: Tuesday March 9, 2010 MYT 7:06:00 PM

Man convicted of spying on Uighurs in Sweden

STOCKHOLM (AP): A 62-year-old man has been convicted of espionage and sentenced to one year and four months in prison for collecting information about exiled Uighurs living in Sweden, court papers showed Tuesday.

Babur Maihesuti is a Swedish citizen, but is also believed to belong to the Chinese Muslim minority group that he was spying on, Hjalmar Forsberg, an official at the Stockholm District Court said.

According to court documents, the man worked for the Chinese government, collecting and passing on to an intelligence official personal data, including information about health, travel, asylum status and politics, about Uighurs in Sweden between January 2008 to June 2009. He also took notes and photographs from meetings and demonstrations, listing participants and their comments, and infiltrated the World Uyghur Congress.

The court convicted him of having conducted aggravated illegal espionage activity.

"He has run the operation in secret. By claiming to sympathize with Uighurs and by concealing that he operated in the purpose of gathering information to China ha has also acted fraudulent," the verdict read. "The risk for damage has been particularly great since the intelligence operation has served a superpower that does not fully respect human rights."

The Chinese government denied the accusations after Monday's verdict. "This kind of accusation against China is groundless and out of ulterior motives," said Qin Gang, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry.

He said Chinese missions overseas and Chinese diplomatic staff have followed the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic relations.

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