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Outspoken scholar from China's Muslim minority stands trial on separatism charges in Xinjiang

  • In this Feb. 4, 2013 photo, Ilham Tohti, an outspoken scholar of China's Turkic Uighur ethnic minority, speaks during an interview at his home in Beijing, China. Tohti was set to go on trial on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 on separatism charges in the country's far western region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    In this Feb. 4, 2013 photo, Ilham Tohti, an outspoken scholar of China's Turkic Uighur ethnic minority, speaks during an interview at his home in Beijing, China. Tohti was set to go on trial on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 on separatism charges in the country's far western region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

  • Armed policemen stand guard near Xinjiang's tourism advertisement boards, which authority used to block off the road heading to Urumqi People's Intermediate Court in Urumqi, China's northwestern region of Xinjiang Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Ilham Tohti, a scholar from China's Muslim Uighur minority community who often criticized the country's ethnic policies is set to go on trial on separatism charges in the country's far western region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Jack Chang)

    Armed policemen stand guard near Xinjiang's tourism advertisement boards, which authority used to block off the road heading to Urumqi People's Intermediate Court in Urumqi, China's northwestern region of Xinjiang Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Ilham Tohti, a scholar from China's Muslim Uighur minority community who often criticized the country's ethnic policies is set to go on trial on separatism charges in the country's far western region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Jack Chang)  (The Associated Press)

  • A plain clothes policeman arranges a Xinjiang's tourism advertisement board to block off the road heading to Urumqi People's Intermediate Court in Urumqi, China's northwestern region of Xinjiang Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Ilham Tohti, a scholar from China's Muslim Uighur minority community who often criticized the country's ethnic policies is set to go on trial on separatism charges in the country's far western region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Jack Chang)

    A plain clothes policeman arranges a Xinjiang's tourism advertisement board to block off the road heading to Urumqi People's Intermediate Court in Urumqi, China's northwestern region of Xinjiang Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Ilham Tohti, a scholar from China's Muslim Uighur minority community who often criticized the country's ethnic policies is set to go on trial on separatism charges in the country's far western region of Xinjiang. (AP Photo/Jack Chang)  (The Associated Press)

A scholar from China's Muslim Uighur minority community who often criticized the country's ethnic policies is set to go on trial on separatism charges in the country's far western region of Xinjiang.

Ilham Tohti is a former economics professor in Beijing accused of activities aimed at overthrowing Chinese rule in Xinjiang. He has rejected the allegations.

His trial is set to open Wednesday morning at Urumqi People's Intermediate Court, but it was not immediately clear if the proceedings were underway. Foreign journalists were not allowed inside, court officials announced no details and the court's telephone number rang unanswered.

Police formed a several-block perimeter around the venue with tape, keeping away journalists, bystanders and several Western diplomats who traveled to Urumqi in attempts to witness the trial.