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China scholar shackled for a month

An outspoken minority Uighur scholar accused of separatism has been shackled on his feet for over a month while he awaits trial in China, his lawyer said today.

The treatment of Ilham Tohti, an economics professor, is rare and unnecessarily harsh, his lawyer Li Fangping said.

Tohti was arrested earlier this year in Beijing amid rising tensions in the western region of Xinjiang between the minority Muslim Uighurs and majority Han people.

He is awaiting trial in Urumqi, the regional capital, on charges of splitting the country.

Authorities have blamed the deadly conflicts in Xinjiang on terrorists seeking separation and they have accused Tohti of fanning ethnic hatred and advocating independence in the region.

Authorities put shackles on his ankles on August 9 and they have remained there ever since, even when he goes to sleep, he told Li.

The prosecuting attorney's office argued that Tohti should be restricted because he had coughed to disturb fellow inmates, which led to scuffles with them.

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