Saturday, 07 December, 2019


Fears mount over bookseller 'freed' by China

Angela Gui Angela Gui @angelagui
Bennie Garza | 25 October, 2017, 13:19

Gui Minhai, a Swedish writer and publisher, disappeared from his Thailand vacation home on October 17, 2015.

"According to what we understand, because Gui Minhai has served his sentence for the crime of causing traffic accident casualties, he was released on Oct 17", the ministry said in an e-mail statement.

Concern was growing Wednesday over the whereabouts of dissident publisher Gui Minhai, who failed to contact his family after Chinese authorities said they had released him from detention. Above, members of the pro-democracy Civic Party carry portraits of Gui Minhai (left) and fellow abductee Lee Bo during a protest outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong in January, 2016.

Gui owned publishing house Mighty Current and a bookstore that sold titles about scandals among China's ruling elite.

Rights group Amnesty International questioned whether he was "genuinely free" and said his safety was at risk. Gui has been held in custody, with no access to legal counsel and no contact with family or friends, for over two years.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry said it had been informed by its Chinese counterpart of Gui's release and that it was working to confirm the information.

Angela said the Swedish consulate in Shanghai had received a "strange phone call" Monday from someone claiming to be Gui.

Angela said that her grandmother is not ill and that her father is not with her. "My father is not in fact with her".

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted that she was "seeking further clarification" on Mr Gui's announced release. It is still very unclear where he is.

A British passport holder, the United Kingdom had said that Lee was "involuntary removed" from Hong Kong and the case was a "serious breach" of a bilateral treaty with China. "I am deeply concerned for his wellbeing".

Gui is one of five booksellers who disappeared in late 2015 and the last of the five to remain incommunicado.

Gui's daughter Angela, who has campaigned vehemently for his release, said Tuesday she had not heard from her father since his supposed release last week and believed he had gone missing again.

The other booksellers also appeared to be cooperating with the authorities until one of the men, Lam Wing-kee, went public, telling the media he had been kidnapped and forced to confess on Chinese state TV.

"As Gui's situation is unclear and his family still can't get in touch with him, we are anxious whether he has been placed under house arrest at an unknown location", Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, told AFP.

Speaking to CNN in June, the city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam said it was not "appropriate for us to go into the mainland or challenge what happens on the mainland".

"My feeling is the Chinese government or some of the leaders do not want Mr Gui to actually be free".

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