P.E.N. Club accepts Chinese student Tohti as honorary member.
The Japan P.E.N. Club said Friday it has decided to accept Tohti Tunyaz, a Chinese student at a graduate school of the University of Tokyo who is now serving an 11-year prison term in China, as an honorary member.
According to the club, Tohti, a researcher on the history of Chinese policies on ethnic minorities, was arrested by the Chinese authorities in 1998 when he temporarily returned to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, his birthplace, to collect some materials.
He was suspected of illegally acquiring state secrets and sentenced to an 11-year prison term.
The club, which has promoted a signature-collecting campaign for his release, said, ''The punishment against him is a violation of freedom of expression and publishing.''
The club aims to strengthen the campaign by accepting Tohti as an honorary member, club members said.