Uighur man in critical condition after being shot in Istanbul

A Uighur man, who claimed he was under threat from the Chinese government, was shot twice in front of an Istanbul building on Monday night, news website OdaTV reported.

Chinese national Yusufujrang Aimaitijiang, sometimes referred to as Yusupjan Emet/Amat in Turkish media, was shot behind his back twice as he was entering a building where he was visiting a friend.

The victim was hospitalised, and remains in critical condition.

The assailant fled on foot and Istanbul police have already started an investigation.

Aimaitijiang/Amat had spoken to Al Jazeera last year, saying that Chinese officials threatened to harm his family to force him to spy for China.

“I reported on everything people did,” he had said. “Whether it was friends or relatives, I shared it all.”

The information he provided had led to prison time in China’s re-education centres for the Muslim ethnic-minority group who live mostly in the Xinjiang region, often for “harmless and inconsequential reasons.”

Aimaitijiang’s mother was arrested and tortured to convince him to start spying in 2012, he told Al Jazeera. From then on, he worked to infiltrate Uighur communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey.

The man was living in the northern mining province of Zonguldak at the time, as there were fewer Uighurs in the city that he could be forced to spy on. Nevertheless, Aimaitijiang had expressed fear for his future as speaking to the media could put a target on his back.

Turkish crime scene investigation units retrieved two casings from the scene, OdaTV said. Aimaitijiang’s friends were taken to a police station to testify.

Turkey was among the first countries to condemn China’s treatment of Uighurs back in 2009, when then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called it a genocide. But Ankara has this year faced accusations of helping Beijing repatriate Uighur Muslims, possibly due to Ankara’s growing dependence on the country.