Uighur charged in Sweden with spying for China

He is charged with spying on fellow Uighurs.  Here is the story (note the links at this site are slow-opening):

A 61-year-old Uighur living in Sweden as a political refugee since 1997 has been charged with spying for China on Uighur expatriates, a Swedish prosecutor said Wednesday.

The man was identified in court documents as Swedish citizen Babur Maihesuti. He was arrested in Stockholm on June 4, 2009.

He has been charged with aggravated espionage conducted “during the period January 2008 up until June 3, 2009,” prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand told AFP.

“He passed information to a Chinese diplomat and a Chinese journalist who, on assignment from the Chinese intelligence service, carried out operations in Sweden for the Chinese state,” the indictment filed with Stockholm district court on Tuesday claimed.

Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Central Asian people residing in northwest China’s Xinjiang region, have accused Beijing of decades of religious, cultural and political oppression.

Maihesuti spied on Uighurs active in associations in Sweden, Norway, Germany and the United States, Lindtsranbd said.

According to the indictment, he “made it appear as though he sympathised with the ethnic Uighurs, took part in conferences and meetings with them, and kept secret that he was passing information about them to representatives for the Chinese state.”

The information included details about their “political asylum, health conditions, country of residence, travels and telephone numbers.”

The indictment said he was paid and received personal favours for his services.

“The crime is considered aggravated because it was systematic, conducted professionally over a lengthy period, and may have caused or cause future serious harm to a large number of people,” it said.

Lindstrand said the man “denied committing any crime.”

“He says the meetings took place because he was asked by (exiled US-based Uighur leader) Rebiya Kadeer to negotiate with someone who represented the Chinese state, in other words the journalist he met with. That’s his explanation,” he said.

What interested me was to learn that we have a US-based Uighur leader? Is that why the American Uighur community was so eager to get refugee status for Uighurs being held in detention at Guantanamo Bay?   By the way, note the story from Sweden never mentions that the Uighurs are Muslims.

In a companion story, China warned the UN about what they claim are fake refugees, here.

China warned Tuesday that UN refugee programmes “should not be a haven for criminals” and said 22 Uighurs who are seeking asylum in Cambodia were involved in crimes. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said China was investigating the Uighurs, who include three children and who arrived at the UN refugee agency office in Phnom Penh after fleeing ethnic conflict in northwest China in July.

Obama lifts restrictions on detention for asylum seekers

The Obama Administration, obviously responding to complaints from groups like Human Rights First and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has reduced the time a prospective asylum seeker must spend in detention before being released into the US.  By the way, once released they are supposed to return for legal hearings.  I don’t know what the stats are for the number who do return, but I bet its pretty abysmal.  If the numbers were good AP would have reported that figure.

From AP:

Currently, foreigners who come to the U.S. without valid documents can be immediately removed from the country, without a hearing. Also, requests for release must be made in writing, ICE said.

Brian Hale, ICE spokesman, said the new policy also will apply to people seeking asylum and already in detention.

The advocacy group Human Rights First reported last April that from 2004 to 2007, the rates of temporary release of asylum seekers dropped from 41.3 percent to 4.2 percent.

The Bush administration toughened criteria for asylum seekers to win release from detention in 2007. Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said those rules were “unduly harsh” and cheered the changes Tuesday.

Immigrant advocates wanted to see more details on the change before commenting.

Steve Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for tougher immigration laws, said detention ensures people show up for hearings.

“The overwhelming amount of people who apply for asylum don’t get it and that’s why they don’t show up. Lack of detention destroys the credibility and meaningfulness of immigration courts,” Camarota said.

It was only last month that we reported on the Africans going to South America and then attempting to get across our Mexican border, here.   So, when some fake asylum seeker, pretending to be escaping persecution, from say Somalia, Bangladesh, Iraq or even Saudi Arabia, slips into Vermont across the Canadian border we know to point a finger at Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

For more information and statistics go here.  Note that we granted asylum to 22,930 people who entered the US in 2008 and claimed they were being persecuted.  Chinese asylum seekers topped the list.  10,443 of the total number granted asylum were in the process of removal when a judge then granted them asylum.  I’m wondering how many of the Chinese were Muslim Uighurs (see my next post, here it is).

Successful asylum seekers get all the help from public assistance that refugees receive.

Some states fingerprint prospective food stamp recipients

Your tax dollars:

And, of course the push is on by the Obama Administration to get that guard against fraud dumped real quick.   I notice that the four states with the highest food stamp useage, who do fingerprinting, are also four huge immigrant population states.

Apparently the policy of requiring fingerprints deters some people from applying; doesn’t that say something!   From the NY Times:

At a time when food stamp enrollment is soaring in the city and across the nation — to the point where one New Yorker out of five takes part in the federal nutrition program — advocates have continued to raise questions about New York City’s requirement that food stamp applicants be fingerprinted.

The advocates assert that the requirement — intended to help prevent fraud — deters some needy people from applying because they are put off by fingerprinting, which many consider intrusive. Betsy Gotbaum, the public advocate, has called the requirement “a very expensive failure.”

New York, Texas, California and Arizona, which together have more than a quarter of all food stamp recipients nationwide, all have the fingerprinting requirement. Studies by the Agriculture Department have found that the fingerprinting rules do not necessarily reduce error or fraud, and may reduce food stamp participation rates — a fact that the critics say means the requirement should be discarded.

Refugee use of food stamps is on the rise.  However, much to my great consternation the Office of Refugee Resettlement is way behind in its legally required annual reports to Congress.  We have now finished FY 2009 and the most recent ORR report is from 2007, here.  Nonetheless, the figures BEFORE the recession indicate refugee food stamp use was already increasing from 33.5% in 2002 to 49.3% in 2007.   I wonder if the foot-dragging on getting out the next reports is because the numbers for employment and public assistance useage are horrible.