China is insisting to deny Canadian officials access to a Canadian Muslim activist Uighur Huseyin Celil jailed earlier this month for "terrorism" China claims.
Canada's foreign minister said on Monday he had been told the man had not been mistreated. But Celil's family says he is being persecuted for his Muslim beliefs and because he is a political dissident. They say the Chinese government has provided no proof Celil has ever been involved in terrorist activities.
"I of course raised the case of Mr Celil and in particular expressed our deep disappointment that we have thus far been denied access to this Canadian citizen," Foreign Minister Peter MacKay told a news conference in Beijing.
MacKay said the Celil case had been one of the main talking points in a four-hour meeting with his new Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, adding that he was especially worried by allegations Celil had been tortured.
"He assured me that this was not the case and that there had been no signs of torture or mistreatment of Mr Celil," MacKay said of what Yang had told him.
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"He also advised me that Mr Yang had been treated in a humane fashion in conjunction with and compliance with international human rights standards," the minister added.
Celil's case is now under appeal.
Celil, fled China in the mid-1990s and sought asylum through the U.N. refugee office in Turkey, according to human rights body Amnesty International.
Canada accepted him as a refugee and he obtained citizenship there in November 2005, Amnesty said. But China considers Celil a Chinese citizen and has refused Canadian officials access to him.
According to his wife in Canada, Celil was extradited from Uzbekistan to China in May last year where he vanished into Chinese custody. Canadian diplomats have since been trying to gain access to him.
He was arrested in Tashkent on March 27 last year while trying to renew a visitor's visa in the Uzbek capital.
His wife and three of his six children live in Burlington, Ontario. A friend told a local newspaper Cecil was in Uzbekistan to try to get his three other children out of China.
Celil received a life sentence April 19 and has 10 days to appeal the sentence. He was convicted on the crimes of "separating China" and "organizing, leading and participating in terrorist groups, organizations."
Canada has expressed its concern with the sentence, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper raised Celil's case with China's president during a visit last November.