Philip Lenczycki, DCNF
- Salih Hudayar, the prime minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he was framed by a Chinese spy.
- After being arrested for “terrorism” and interrogated by the FBI in September 2018, Hudayar’s case was suddenly dropped by the state in January 2022 before a Chinese espionage expert could testify that his accuser’s profile was consistent with a Chinese agent.
- Authorities denied The DCNF’s Freedom of Information Act request for body-worn camera footage showing officers responding to the complainant, but delivered footage showing Hudayar’s interview by the FBI.
A prominent Uyghur human rights activist is asking the U.S. Senate to investigate his claim of an ongoing Chinese intelligence operation against him, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Salih Hudayar, the prime minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, was arrested for “terrorism” in 2018, according to court filings made by his defense; however, Hudayar told The Daily Caller News Foundation he believes he was framed by a Chinese spy.
“The Senate Select Intelligence Committee must investigate the baseless criminal charges a suspected Chinese agent fabricated in order to eliminate my organization’s opposition to China’s ongoing genocide,” Salih Hudayar, the prime minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, told TheDCNF. The charges were dropped without explanation on January 21, 2022. Hudayar’s group asserts that the Uyghur homeland, which Uyghurs refer to as “East Turkistan” and which China calls “Xinjiang,” is an occupied country.
“Hudayar was targeted, we believe, by a Chinese government operative who was intending to infiltrate his organization and subsequently brought baseless criminal charges against him,” Paul Kiyonaga, Hudayar’s lawyer, told TheDCNF.
Hudayar’s statements follow recent global reports from Uyghurs claiming to be victims of Operation Sky Net, a covert Chinese government program tasked with kidnapping overseas targets, such as Uyghur dissidents.
Hudayar, a naturalized American citizen who served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, said he was first approached in June 2018 during a demonstration his Uyghur group, East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, was holding at Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to recognize the Uyghur genocide.
The alleged Chinese operative “carried three phones and spoke Uyghur to me, bluntly asking if China could buy me off,” said Hudayar. “When I told her I’d never sell out, she threatened me and my family. I told her to leave and she did.”
The woman claims she’d arrived in America just weeks before the demonstration and was volunteering for the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) — a Uyghur organization unrelated to Hudayar’s group — when she allegedly overheard him making derogatory remarks about her Chinese ethnicity and telling others she was a spy, according to Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) arrest records.
Hudayar denies these claims.
After a few weeks, Hudayar said the woman reappeared on July 11, 2018 “dressed provocatively” at a Washington, D.C. office he shared, claiming to have an appointment with Rebiya Kadeer, the former head of the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation.
“She told me she spoke many languages and could help me,” Hudayar said. “She touched my hand and said she knew I didn’t have a girlfriend. Again, I told her to leave and I warned Kadeer soon afterwards.”
After leaving, the woman filed a police report with the MPD, claiming she’d met Hudayar after he’d called. However, she claims that once alone, Hudayar threatened to kill her and her loved ones, saying he worked with the FBI and CIA as Turkish intelligence, prompting her departure, arrest records state.
Hudayar also denies these claims.
The D.C. Superior Court issued a “Threats To Do Bodily Harm Arrest Warrant” for Hudayar on August 28, 2018, for allegedly threatening to kidnap or injure the woman in an anti-Islamic hate crime, according to arrest records.
Hudayar told TheDCNF he is a practicing Muslim.
“The warrant was executed on September 12, 2018 while I was demonstrating in front of the White House,” said Hudayar, citing court records, “except instead of the MPD, it was the Secret Service, and instead of ‘Attempted Threats,’ they arrested me for ‘terrorism.’”
While the prosecution later characterized Hudayar’s subsequent FBI “interview” as “an apparently cordial conversation with federal agents,” Hudayar says “they handcuffed me to a chair and interrogated me for hours at an undisclosed, underground location.”
Hudayar’s defense team told the court he’d been mistreated.
“The FBI agents continued their interview even after Defendant indicated that he wished to speak to his attorney,” his defense stated in a court filing, arguing Hudayar repeatedly denied terrorist connections and told investigators he suspected the woman was with Chinese intelligence. At some point during the roughly two hour and forty minute interview, agents changed Hudayar’s charges to ‘Attempted Threats’ to match MPD’s warrant.
“The court proceedings continued in this way, the state suppressed materials related to my case, such as the related body worn camera (BWC) footage, and because of the state this misdemeanor case lasted over three years,” Hudayar said. (RELATED: Here’s How The Navy Responded To China’s Mock Invasion Of Taiwan)
TheDCNF submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the bodycam footage and other suppressed materials related to Hudayar’s case on February 14. After first failing to provide the requested materials within the statutory period and then granting itself an extension, the MPD denied TheDCNF’s request for bodycam footage showing officers responding to the complainant on July 11, 2018, citing privacy issues. The MPD delivered Hudayar’s September 12, 2018, FBI interview to TheDCNF on May 12.
“However, before a witness we’d called could testify, my case was suddenly dropped on January 21, 2022,” Hudayar said, referring to David Major, a retired FBI agent and noted Chinese intelligence specialist.
Hudayar’s defense notified the court Major intended to testify that “it was reasonable” for Hudayar to assume the woman was “a Chinese government operative” based upon the discovery materials, the information Major obtained on the complainant, as well as Major’s knowledge of Chinese influence and infiltration operations targeting U.S.-based human rights groups, court records state.
“She’d worked for Chinese state-run media, state-banking, the Ministry of Education and other entities tied to the Chinese Communist Party,” Hudayar said, citing evidence private investigators obtained from the woman’s LinkedIn profile.
“The senate must investigate this matter,” Hudayar said. “Foreign agents weaponized our justice system and God only knows what else.”
TheDCNF reached out to the complainant, Rebiya Kadeer, Secret Service, FBI and David Major, but none responded to requests for comment.
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