A state-run newspaper in China has accused a recently detained Uighur scholar and government critic of splitting ethnic unity, while his lawyer says he received no official word about his situation.

Ilham Tohti, an economics professor known for his criticism of Beijing's heavy repression of the Uighur ethnic minority, was taken away by police Wednesday.

Lawyer Li Fangping said Saturday that police failed to inform the family of Ilham Tohti of his whereabouts and possible charges, as required by China's law.

In a Saturday editorial, the state-run newspaper Global Times said that the Beijing-based professor has openly propagated separatism.

European and American officials have urged China to explain why police have detained him.