Malaysia rejects China's plea, frees 11 Uighur Muslims

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A lawyer says Malaysia's new government has released 11 ethnic Uighur Muslims after dropping charges against them for entering the country illegally and rejecting China's request that they be deported back to Beijing.

Fahmi Abdul Moin, who represents the Uighurs, says the 11 men flew out of Kuala Lumpur late Tuesday to Turkey.

They were part of a group who bolted from a Thai prison in November last year. Their release appeared to be a departure from Malaysia's past norm of forcibly repatriating Uighur Muslims to China despite concerns by rights groups that it could endanger their lives.

Fahmi said Thursday that prosecutors agreed to drop the charges against the men after defense lawyers made an appeal citing humanitarian grounds.