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06 Apr 2021

CGTN under pressure in France after multiple complaints

On 5 April 2021, Safeguard Defenders filed two formal complaints regarding China Global Television Network (CGTN) with both French TV regulator CSA - covering the entire European broadcasting license for CGTN - and US regulator FCC.

Both complaints, one on behalf of Mr Mamutjan ABUDUREHIM and one on behalf of Mr Adrian ZENZ, denounce the grave lies and distortions of facts used by CGTN to create broadcasts evidently construed to defame Mr Abdurehim and Mr Zenz. On this basis, Safeguard Defenders also requested a right to reply on CGTN for Mr Zenz, on the basis of the firm guarantees provided for under the European legal framework.

The complaint on behalf of Mr Abdurehim moreover denounces grave infringements on his right to privacy and that of his family, as well as blatant violations of human rights and children’s rights sanctioned under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the People’s Republic of China, through the coercion of statements by minors.


Mr Abdurehim is the father of Muhlise Mamut, 10 years old, who - with her brother and paternal grandparents - was featured in an ‘interview’ produced and aired by CGTN Francais in Le Monde de l’Economie on 23 March 2021 and by CGTN in China24 on 27 March 2021.

The broadcast was a clear attempt to counter the statements previously provided by Muhlise in CNN’s coverage of her family, as evidenced by the title of the broadcast: Xinjiang Human Rights: Uygur family disturbed by CNN reporters asks son to come home.

Whereas express permission to interview and air his daughter was given by Mr Abdurehim to CNN reporters, no such permission was granted for the ensuing CGTN production. The broadcasts are of a clear defamatory nature towards Mr Abdurehim and contain multiple falsehoods and distortions of facts.

Moreover, there is clear evidence of coercion on Muhlise and her grandparents to provide statements and accusations towards Mr Abdurehim, which -  on the basis of Safeguard Defender’s extensive experience with forced televised confessions on CGTN as well as evidence provided by the second family featured in the CNN special - we believe were scripted.

Both CGTN broadcasts accuse Mr Abdurehim of abandoning his family. This is manifestly false. Over the years, Mr Abdurehim has publicly and repeatedly stated that it was the Chinese Government’s policy on strict passport restrictions for Uyghurs that kept the family separated for three years between 2009 and 2012.

After finally rejoining him in 2012, his wife and children were forced to return to Xinjiang in 2015 to renew their passports as instructed by the local Consulate. They were never allowed to return to him.

In 2017, from the very start of the mass internment campaign for Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, his wife Muherrem was detained. She was released in 2019, but detained again shortly after and remains in detention up until now under the accusation frequently used against Uyghurs of “provoking ethnic hatred”.

During that same period and as denounced by countless Uyghurs living in exile abroad, contacts between Mr Abdurehim and his family back home were forcefully interrupted. In 2019, Mr Abdurehim’s mother, expressly asked her son not to call again in order not to endanger the family as “there were cadres at home” (e.g. local police officers). The line was disconnected since.

Therefore, the affirmation made in the CGTN broadcast that it is Mr Abdurehim who willingly interrupted contact with his family is false.

The statements made by Mr Abdurehim are in full line with the numerous testimonies made over the past years by Uyghur exiles across the world regarding the rampant repression in Xinjiang, recently defined as ‘genocide’ by the US State Department and by Parliamentary Committees in The Netherlands and Canada.

The severe distortion of the facts leading up to today are not only defamatory for Mr Abdurehim, but particularly painful for him as a father, especially as his daughter Muhlise and parents were used by CGTN to contribute to the lies spread to a global audience in his regard.

In this respect, Mr Abdurehim noted the repeated presence of a third person in the CGTN footage. He believes this person to act as an informant in charge of monitoring his family. He states:

“It was this lady who first told Muhlise in the CNN footage to say her mom (Muherrem) is home and told my mom not to cry when she burst into tears when I was mentioned. She also appeared making a phone call towards the end which made the interaction bring to an abrupt end. CGTN says Muherrem was arrested in 2019 for "provoking ethnic hatred," a charge too often levelled against innocent people like Muherrem to justify China's mass incarceration when exposed. This claim also contradicted the instructions given to Muhlise to state her mom is "home" when asked.”

Further evidence regarding the coercive nature of CGTN’s productions has been provided to Safeguard Defenders by the second family featured in the CCN coverage, following footage shared on Twitter by the same account that first spread Muhlise’s statement, showing Kadier Mireban’s daughter making similar accusations towards her mother. Kadier Mireban and her husband are currently residing in Italy with refugee status and desperately seeking to have their four children from whom they have been forcefully separated reunited with them.

On the basis of the evidence provided and its extensive experience with CGTN’s forced televised confessions, Safeguard Defenders believes severe pressure and coercion was applied on these minors to defame their parents. This constitutes a blatant and grave violation of the rights of children sanctioned under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the People’s Republic of China.


It is exactly many of the governmental practices described above that are often at the heart of Mr Adrian Zenz’s research. His widely-cited reports and recognised expertise on the severe repression in Xinjiang is the reason CGTN has engaged in a smearing campaign against him.

The complaint filed, and right to reply on CGTN to the defamatory statements made in his regard, specifically concerns a The Point with Liu Xin episode aired on 26 February 2021, under the title US Politician, western media cited “religious extremist” on Xinjiang.

Parts of this episode were aired again in the February 27th episode of Global Watch (Grayzone report rebukes ‘genocide’ accusation against China) and on the March 3th episode of The Point (What’s behind Adrian Zenz’s report, ‘genocide’ lies?). Part of the original episode, concerning the interview with Grayzone guest Max Blumenthal, was transcribed and published on CGTN’s website.

The original 30-minute episode of The Point with Liu Xin hosts four guests (Mr Max Blumenthal, Prof. Shen Yi, Prof. Huo Zhengxin and Mr Einar Tangen), each of them actively attacking Mr Zenz’s research, without allowing any alternative view or opinion. Anchor Liu Xin actively participates not only by using a tendentious line of questioning, but in affirming that Mr Zenz and those who have acknowledged his report are “spreading lies”. The segment and its rebroadcasts show an evident lack of honesty and rigor of information, independence of information and pluralist opinions.

Moreover, multiple defamatory statements are made with regard to Mr Zenz and the organizations with which he collaborates, both by guest Max Blumenthal and by CGTN itself in multiple descriptions in the underlying banner not all attributable to the guest’s statements. Mr Blumenthal, Editor-in-Chief of Grayzone (accused of conducting disinformation campaigns and regularly collaborating with Chinese and Russian media) repeatedly describes Mr Zenz as a “rightwing religious extremist” and “data manipulator” “guilty of statistical fraud”. CGTN’s banner first reads a statement attributable to Mr Blumenthal “Revelation of truth on Xinjiang – Grayzone: Zenz’s report shows cherry-picking of source info” and later “Revelation of truth on Xinjiang – How poisonous is right extremist’s view?”, adopting in the latter case its own defamatory accusation towards Mr Zenz.

Mr Zenz had previously responded publicly to many of the distortions of Mr Zenz’s research re- proposed in the broadcast (see in particular his written rebuttal of 6 October 2020), yet notwithstanding this publicly available information, the CGTN broadcasts wilfully continue to ignore these and propagate false information.

As this episode was evidently construed to defame Mr Zenz and his research, as well as the organizations and global media expressly named in the broadcast, without allowing for any differing opinion or rebuttal, and as parts of the broadcast were furthermore aired upon repetition, Safeguard Defenders believes a right to reply under Article 28 (§1 and §2) of the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive and under Article 8 of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television should be guaranteed for Mr Zenz to respond both to the defamatory statements made to his regard and to his research.


These complaints add to the growing body of evidence provided for by Safeguard Defenders to Regulatory Authorities in the European Union and the United States on practices severely violating human rights (notably forced confessions) adopted by China Global Television Network, as well as known and intentional distortions of facts and clear lies for the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party.