World

Lawyer: Outspoken Uighur scholar in China found guilty of separatism, receives life sentence

  • In this Feb. 4, 2013 photo, Ilham Tohti, an outspoken scholar of China's Uighur minority, gestures as he speaks during an interview at his home in Beijing, China. A Chinese court on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 imposed a harsh life sentence on Ilham  Tohti, who championed the country's Uighur minority, the most severe penalty in a decade for anyone in China convicted of illegal political speech. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    In this Feb. 4, 2013 photo, Ilham Tohti, an outspoken scholar of China's Uighur minority, gestures as he speaks during an interview at his home in Beijing, China. A Chinese court on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 imposed a harsh life sentence on Ilham Tohti, who championed the country's Uighur minority, the most severe penalty in a decade for anyone in China convicted of illegal political speech. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Feb. 4, 2013 photo, Ilham Tohti, an outspoken scholar of China's Uighur minority, pauses during an interview at his home in Beijing, China. A Chinese court on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 imposed a harsh life sentence on Ilham Tohti, who championed the country's Uighur minority, the most severe penalty in a decade for anyone in China convicted of illegal political speech. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    In this Feb. 4, 2013 photo, Ilham Tohti, an outspoken scholar of China's Uighur minority, pauses during an interview at his home in Beijing, China. A Chinese court on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 imposed a harsh life sentence on Ilham Tohti, who championed the country's Uighur minority, the most severe penalty in a decade for anyone in China convicted of illegal political speech. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

The lawyer for an outspoken scholar from China's Uighur minority says his client has been found guilty of separatism and sentenced to life in jail.

The Urumqi People's Intermediate Court sentenced scholar Ilham Tohti on Tuesday after a two-day trial. Separatism carries sentences from three years to death in China.

Ilham Tohti was known as a moderate voice who spoke out about the plight of Uighurs under majority Han Chinese rule.

Tensions have run high in the far western region of Xinjiang where many of China's Uighurs live. Authorities said several explosions killed two people Sunday in central Xinjiang but didn't say who carried out the attacks. Police said 43 people died in May when Uighur militants drove through a market in the regional capital of Urumqi and hurled explosives.