Chinese Scholar Detained On Way To IU

Ilham Tohti was slated to be a visiting IU professor before he was detained by Chinese officials while trying to fly from Beijing to the United States.

beijing airport

Photo: Hector Garcia (flickr)

Ilham Toti was detained at the Beijing airport.

Indiana University officials say they are unsure when or if a Chinese scholar bound for Bloomington will be able to fulfill an agreement to teach in the school’s Central Eurasian Studies department.

University spokesman Mark Land says Ilham Tohti was slated to be a visiting professor for as much as a year before he was detained by Chinese officials while trying to fly from Beijing to the United States.

“We don’t have any information as of today as to whether this was a temporary, just some sort of a misunderstanding or whether there is something that will permanently keep him from being able to leave the country,” Land says.

Tohti is a Uyghur, an ethnic minority in China, and has been outspoken about what he perceives as poor treatment of those in his culture by the Chinese government.

University officials spent Monday afternoon meeting about Tohti’s predicament but Land says he is unsure what the school could do to come to the professor’s aid. Land says IU has had similar problems in the past, including difficulty getting its teachers into China.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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