The Higher People's Court of Xinjiang, a restive and predominantly Muslim northwestern region of China, upheld the eight-year jail term handed down to Rebiya Kadeer in March, said her daughter, Rushangguli.
Kadeer was arrested in August 1999 and sentenced on charges of providing intelligence overseas. The U.S. government has protested her detention and U.S. lawmakers have demanded her release.
Before her detention, Kadeer ran her own trading company and helped women in Xinjiang start their own businesses. Once hailed by Chinese state media for promoting economic development among China's Muslims, Kadeer was arrested for mailing newspapers to her husband, Sidik Rouzi, a well-known opponent of Chinese rule in Xinjiang who lives in the United States.
Members of Xinjiang's largest Muslim ethnic group, the Uighurs, have been engaged in a simmering, low-level insurgency against Chinese rule for much of the 1990s.
The appeals court notified Kadeer's family last month that it upheld her sentence, the daughter said. China's highest court, the Supreme People's Court in Beijing, refused to accept another appeal and the family's lawyer has advised them that further appeals were useless, she added.
``We know the outcome will be the same where ever we go,'' she said by telephone from Urumqi, Xinjiang's regional capital.
Rushangguli and her elder brother visited Kadeer in Urumqi's Bajiahu women's prison last month, the daughter said. With prison guards taking notes and recording their conversation, they could not discuss Kadeer's health, the daughter said.
Kadeer, 54, has heart problems, a stomach ulcer and a gallbladder infection, the daughter said.
Arrested with Kadeer were her secretary and two of her sons. One son was released, but the other and the secretary were sent to labor camps.