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Celil not tortured, Chinese officials tell MacKay

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay says Chinese officials have told him a Canadian citizen serving a life sentence in China has not been tortured.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay says Chinese officials have told him a Canadian citizen serving a life sentence in China has not been tortured.

MacKay said the case of Huseyin Celil was one of the main topics during a lengthy meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, Monday in Beijing.

Celil was convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to life in prison earlier this month. China has denied Canadian officials any consular access to the 38-year-old, who has a wife and four children in southern Ontario.

"I, of course, raised the case of Mr. Celil and in particular expressed our deep disappointment that we have thus far been denied access to this Canadian citizen," he said at a news conference.

"I think we have left no doubt in the mind of the foreign minister and that of Chinese officials how seriously we view this case."

MacKay said Yang assured him that Celil was not being mistreated, as his family and their lawyers believe.

"He assured me that this was not the case and that there had been no signs of torture or mistreatment of Mr. Celil," said MacKay.

Celil will appeal his case.

The foreign affairs minister, who arrived in China on Sunday, said Chinese officials have agreed to review with Canada how it handles cases involving people who have dual citizenship.

China says Celil had dual Canadian-Chinese citizenship when he was arrested in Uzbekistan in 2006 on charges he helped set up a political party for China's minority Muslim Uighurs.

Celil's lawyers and Amnesty International say Celil had only one citizenship when he was arrested— Canadian. Under Chinese laws, people lose their Chinese citizenship when they become citizens of another country.

Apart from human rights, MacKay says he also discussed Canadian-Chinese trade, global environmental issues, and areas where China might be able to provide assistance to one of its troubled neighbours,Afghanistan.

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