An American professor turned back at the Beijing airport despite having a valid tourist visa said he believes he’s being punished for his support of Ilham Tohti, an ethnic Uighur and economics professor arrested earlier this year on charges of separatism, The New York Times reported. The U.S. Department of State and human rights organizations have denounced Tohti’s arrest.
“The issue for me is not my being denied entry — I can certainly continue my research and academic work without going to China — but the attempt to pressure those who speak in support of Ilham to retreat into silence, or at least to isolate them,” Elliot Sperling, the professor who was turned back and a Tibetan history expert at Indiana University, told the newspaper.
The Times noted that China has a history of denying entry to scholars and journalists who have been critical of the Chinese government.
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