Six people suspected of surveillance Uighur refugees in Turkish territory on behalf of Chinese intelligence services were arrested in Istanbul, the Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported today.

A seventh suspect is still being sought, who is also accused of gathering information on members and associations of the Muslim and Turkish-speaking Uyghur minority, according to Anadolu.

Several tens of thousands of Uyghurs have found refuge in recent years in Turkey, a country that is one of the main defenders of their cause against Beijing, which is accused of crimes against humanity against them.

About 50,000 Uyghurs are estimated to live in Turkey, the largest Uyghur diaspora outside of Central Asia.

Turks maintain close ethnic, religious and linguistic ties with the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim Turkic-speaking people.

Uyghur protesters regularly gather in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, holding up pictures of family members they say they haven’t heard from in years.

Western countries, including the US, France and Britain, have denounced an ongoing “genocide” against the Uyghurs.

Since 2017, more than a million Uyghurs or members of other ethnic groups, mainly Muslims, have been taken by Chinese authorities to “re-education” “camps”.

Beijing argues that these are training centers to allow the population to stay away from extremism and to ensure peace.