Saturday, 23 March, 2019


Chinese police detain bookseller Gui Minhai again, daughter says

Sweden summons China's ambassador after Gui Minhai's latest disappearance Chinese police detain bookseller Gui Minhai again, daughter says
Bennie Garza | 23 January, 2018, 12:36

Gui, who has Swedish citizenship, was taken away on Saturday by plainclothes police officers as he travelled by train to Beijing, in the company of two Swedish diplomats, The New York Times said.

The NYT said Chinese officials accused Gui of sharing "secret information" with Swedish diplomats and meeting with them illegally. Gui Minhai was reportedly en route to Beijing's Swedish Embassy for a medical examination when police boarded the train and ushered him away.

Mr Gui had begun to show signs of a disease of the nervous system, called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and was headed to the consulate in Shanghai for tests, the New York Times said.

She said he expressed a desire to receive medical treatment in Europe, and a Swedish doctor was flown in to Beijing to examine him. Gui had seemed on the verge of release last autumn but this week's dramatic development has shattered those hopes.

But the South China Morning Post cited friends of Gui as saying he may have been traveling to Beijing to pick up a new Swedish passport. Chinese authorities said he was released in October past year, although his whereabouts remained unclear.

The Swedish citizen was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who hit the headlines when they disappeared in late 2015.

Sweden has summoned the Chinese ambassador over the incident.

Margot Wallström, Sweden's foreign minister, told reporters her government had "detailed knowledge" of Saturday's events and was "working round the clock" on the issue.

Jojje Olsson, a Swedish writer who has written a book about Gui's saga, said Saturday's "kidnapping" underlined how Beijing cared more about silencing dissent than its global image: "It shows the Chinese government cares less and less about criticism from the outside - they would rather set an example that you can not get away when you criticise the government, than listen to foreign governments or foreign media".

After Mr Gui vanished in Thailand there were allegations that he had been abducted by Chinese agents across worldwide borders in an extrajudicial process. "Firm actions have been taken at a high political level and we have been in contact with Chinese officials who have promised us immediate information about his condition", the official, Patric Nilsson, said. Gui went missing in Pattaya with no record of departure, only to re-emerge on Chinese state television months later "confessing" to a drunk-driving accident that took place over a decade ago.

In October 2017, Mr Gui was released from prison, but could not be found by his family.

"China's treatment of publisher Gui Minhai-a story of abduction, detention, and now denial of medical care-demonstrates flagrant disregard for the rule of law and human rights", said Summer Lopez, Senior Director of Free Expression Programs at PEN America.

The former British colony of Hong Kong, however, is supposed to have distinct legal autonomy under the terms of its handover to China in 1997.

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