Fears mount over bookseller ‘freed’ by China

25 October 2017/ Channel NewsAsia

HONG KONG: Concern was growing Wednesday (Oct 25) over the whereabouts of dissident publisher Gui Minhai, who failed to contact his family after Chinese authorities said they had released him from detention.

Rights group Amnesty International questioned whether he was “genuinely free” and said his safety was at risk.

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

“Without access to his family and a lawyer of his own choice, he’s at risk of torture. If he’s genuinely free, we ask the Chinese government to let him contact his family immediately.”

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 53-year-old Swedish citizen and Hong Kong-based publisher, whose company was known for salacious titles about the lives of China’s political elite, disappeared in 2015 while on vacation in Thailand. He had been detained at an undisclosed location in China ever since.

He was one of five booksellers from the same firm to go missing and reappear in custody on the mainland.

In February 2016 Gui appeared on Chinese television, weeping as he confessed to involvement in a fatal car accident years before.

In another interview the same year, he also admitted trying to smuggle illegal books into China.

The Chinese foreign ministry told AFP Tuesday that Gui had served his jail sentence over “a traffic accident” and was released on October 17.

The Swedish foreign ministry said it had been informed by China of Gui’s release and was trying to contact him.

 

But Angela said that when Swedish consular officers arrived at the undisclosed location in China on Oct 17, Chinese authorities told them her father had already been released and claimed they had no idea where he was. Read more…

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