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Nearly 100 Uyghurs From China Detained In Turkey With 'Kyrgyz Passports'

  • RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

Kyrgyzstan’s authorities say they are investigating whether dozens of Chinese citizens detained in Turkey were holding Kyrgyz passports.

Turkish media reports say Turkish police detained 98 ethnic Uyghurs from China's northwestern region of Xinjiang at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport on May 17, after four unidentified men sold them Kyrgyz passports and tickets to Saudi Arabia in the airport’s transit zone. The four were also detained, reports say.

"Although we are sure that their passports are forged, the head of the State Registration Service, Taiyrbek Sarpashev, has ordered that an inquiry be conducted with the Turkish side via diplomatic channels," a spokesman for the agency, Melis Erjigitov, said on May 18.

The Uyghurs, who originally bought tickets to Northern Cyprus, paid 2,500 euros ($2,830) for each Kyrgyz passport and 300 euros ($340) for each ticket to the Saudi city of Jeddah, media quoted Turkish investigators as saying.

Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking, indigenous Muslims from Xinjiang.

With reporting by Hurriyet and Interfax
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