US raises questions on Kazahk wanted by China

World | 11 Feb 2019 1:45 pm

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing says it is following the case of a Chinese-born Kazakh man who had been fighting attempts by Beijing to return him to China from neighboring Uzbekistan and whose current whereabouts are unknown.

A spokesman said today that the embassy was aware of Halemubieke Xiaheman's situation and was in close touch with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and "relevant governments'' on his case.

"We urge third countries to allow UNHCR and other UN organizations and non-governmental organizations access to these asylum seekers to assess their protection claims and provide assistance,'' the spokesman said in an emailed response to a question from The Associated Press.

Halemubieke had filmed a video from inside the transit zone at the airport in Uzbekistan's capital, pleading for help, saying the Chinese Embassy there wanted him sent back to China. It was distributed Thursday.

In response, the Uzbek foreign ministry issued a statement saying he flew to Bangkok on Saturday.

"We inform that he did not enter the territory of Uzbekistan and on February 9, 2019 flew out to Bangkok,'' it said.

The statement said Halemubieke had earlier flown from Thailand to Kazakhstan's capital Almaty after transiting in Tashkent, but gave no details.

It was not immediately clear whether Halemubieke had arrived in Bangkok. The UNHCR office in Thailand said it was unable to comment due to confidentiality rules.-AP

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