New York Times says Rubio’s questions on ‘withholding’ information about Uyghur genocide ‘reckless and wrong’

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The New York Times told Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio Friday that his questioning of how the publication handled leaked documents on China’s human rights abuses was “reckless and wrong.”

“We want to make clear that your demands are not just antithetical to a free press, they may actually put lives at risk,” Vice President of Communications Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a letter to Rubio obtained by Fox News. 

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
(Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Times’ comments come one day after Rubio sent a second letter to the publication inquiring about its decision to “withhold” documents that directly tied Chinese President Xi Jinping to the ongoing genocide against the Uyghur populations in Xinjiang.


Rubio questioned why The New York Times chose not to publicly release all 403 pages of leaked documents that it first reported on in 2019.

In addition, the senator asked specifically about the decision not to report on a “secret” speech given by Xi that directly tied him to atrocities against Muslim ethnic minorities. 

The Times pushed back on the question and said it “not only broke the story of Xi Jinping’s secret speeches but gave the public a full and complete portrait of the systematic detention and abuse of the Uyghurs in China.”

“Your demand that we publish all the underlying source material we obtained in our investigation, and your allegation that The Times is withholding critical information, is reckless and wrong,” Rhoades Ha said.

Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 1, 2021. 

Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 1, 2021. 
(REUTERS/Dilara Senkaya)

In an interview with Fox News Thursday, Rubio expressed concern that the documents could show additional damaging facts relating to the human rights abuses. 

“My fear is, as damaging as this revelation has been to the Communist Party of China, after all this time there might be additional things in there that are damaging,” Rubio said. He further questioned whether the documents “might even imply that our political leaders are aware of what has been happening there for some time and made arrangements not to discuss it.”

Rubio additionally asked the publication if it had been in contact with the Chinese Communist Party. 

The Times did not directly respond to the senator’s questions.

Fox News could not immediately reach Rubio for comment.


Rhoades Ha backed The Times’ decision to not publicly release all documents as a measure of precaution to protect its sources and reporters. 

“Our work was to verify and reveal the contents of those documents, which we did in a series of stories revealing how Xi Jinping’s personal directives led to the mass detention of Uyghurs,” she said. “We urge you and anyone else misled by your previous comments to read that investigation.”