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China 'offering persecuted Uighur Muslims thousands of pounds to spy for them'

20 February 2023, 06:25 | Updated: 20 February 2023, 16:11

Uighurs face torture, forced labour, and human rights violations in Camps in Xinjiang in the West of the country
Uighurs face torture, forced labour, and human rights violations in Camps in Xinjiang in the West of the country. Picture: Getty
James Gooderson

By James Gooderson

A persecuted Uighur Muslim who fled China and took up residence in the UK was offered thousands of pounds a month to spy for the country, LBC can reveal.

A suspected Chinese security officer appeared to blackmail a Uighur Muslim, according to phone recording obtained exclusively by LBC.

In the phone recording, the suspected officer tells the Uighur Muslim: "There are clean easy jobs available during normal working hours, you can earn up to 7 to 8 thousand dollars a month, first, you need to find out comprehensive information for us."

The man, who asked to be called Arman, told LBC that the officer wanted him doing reconnaissance by attending protests and Uighur community gatherings in the UK and report who had attended.

He was also told to note down names of Uighur refugees who have given interviews to journalists and to discover what certain Uighur pressure groups were planning.

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Professor Anthony Glees, Director of the Centre for Security, and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham said: “This is standard totalitarian espionage tradecraft. They want to do the things they set out to do.

"To steal our secrets, meddle in our politics, interfere with our stance on human rights and to undermine and subvert our willingness to defend our values and other’s values with all the means at their disposal.”

Researchers estimate that nearly two million Uighurs have faced what the UN calls mass arbitrary detention. Uighurs face torture, forced labour, and human rights violations in Camps in Xinjiang in the West of the country.

China’s government has repeatedly denied these claims, calling it the “lie of the century”.

Arman said he was told to attend rallies and protests in the UK to see who was in attendance
Arman said he was told to attend rallies and protests in the UK to see who was in attendance. Picture: Getty

Arman told LBC that the toughest part of the phone calls is talking about his family. He told LBC that the security offcer said: “We will make sure you can speak to your mother regularly; we will help you to send your child to the UK.

"To help you, for you to reunite. And, if any of your relatives are in prison in camps, in detention, we will make sure to release them, so they have a normal life”.

Asked if he would ever be tempted to accept the offer, Arman said: “Yes of course it is tempting, it is not the money, it is the fact that I can speak to my mother, not much time left to live.

"It’s a very complicated feeling but I cannot do that because my conscience wouldn’t allow it."

China has said the accusation of Uighur Muslim persecution is the "lie of the century"
China has said the accusation of Uighur Muslim persecution is the "lie of the century". Picture: Getty

Charles Parton a Senior Associate at RUSI, former diplomat in China and a special advisor on China for the foreign affairs select committee, said: “Intelligence services don't just concentrate on one target - if you see another opportunity [to conduct espionage] of course you go for it.

"I think it's a cancer in our society: like a cancer in the body, which might start in one part of the body, it can spread to others."

LBC has also heard unverified anecdotal evidence of at least two other Uighur Muslims who have had contact with the Chinese state based in the UK.

The Home Office said in a statement: “We continually assess potential threats in the UK, and take protection of individuals’ rights, freedoms, and safety in the UK very seriously.

"The Home Office works closely with other government departments as well as relevant agencies and law enforcement to protect people identified as being at risk and ensuring that the UK is a safe and welcoming place for those who choose to settle here.

“Anyone who believes that a crime has been committed or is concerned for their safety should contact the police.”

LBC contacted the Chinese Embassy for a response and they said there was no truth in the allegations being made against Chinese officials and denied any wrongdoing taking place in Xinjiang.

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