The bookseller of a Hong Kong publisher of books banned in mainland China who disappeared three weeks ago has been located in the mainland, Chinese officials told Hong Kong authorities, AP reports.
Lee Bo, a British citizen, is one of five men linked to Hong Kong publishing company Mighty Current and its Causeway Bay bookshop who have gone missing in recent months. The cases have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city and sparked fears Beijing is clamping down on the city’s freedom of speech.
Hong Kong police said late Monday that they received a letter from Guangdong province’s public security department that Lee was “understood” to be in the mainland.
Police said a letter from Lee, 65, also enclosed was similar to one received by his wife, Sophie Choi Ka-ping earlier this week, The Standard reports.
In that letter, Lee wrote he is being “dragged into” a decade-old drink driving case of colleague Gui Minhai. Allegations that he went to the mainland for prostitution were groundless, Lee said.
Meanwhile, family and friends of Gui, 51, were skeptical about a state media report that he returned voluntarily because of his guilt the drink driving incident that caused the death of a university student.
Xinhua News Agency and CCTV reported on Sunday night that Gui, the first of the five to go missing, had turned himself in for a traffic accident 12 years ago in which a female university student was killed.
Some netizens spotted differences in Gui’s hair and the color of his T-shirt, which sparked speculation the video was either edited or filmed under separate situations.
His daughter Angela Gui told Reuters she does not believe her father would have surrendered himself and that she has never heard of him being involved in a traffic accident.
His wife, who lives in Germany, also said she had never heard of the accident until it was reported by state media on Sunday.
Friend Bei Ling, president of the Independent Chinese Pen Center of which Gui has been a member since 2006, said Gui was involved in such an accident, but would never have turned himself in.
Bei said another friend had verified Gui’s involvement in the death of a girl but insisted he was abducted by mainland law enforcers.
He said friends investigating the disappearance last October had found that Gui was followed by a man out of his holiday home in Thailand.
Bei also found video footage showing four Chinese-looking men entering the home and attempting to take away a computer belonging to Gui after he disappeared.
In the strongest statement yet by anyone in Hong Kong’s pro-China camp, Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang said the taped confession by Gui was not enough, Reuters reports.
“The China Central Television (CCTV) report did not seem to be able to calm the public. As the case drags on, there will be more speculation,” Tsang said late on Monday.
He said if more details did not come to light, the Hong Kong government should seek assistance from the central government in Beijing.
CCTV could not be reached for comment.
“We should not speculate and criticisms should be based on fact,” Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday. “I and SAR government are also very concerned about the case.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Tuesday that he had nothing more to add about Gui’s case as Chinese media had already given a “rather detailed” report on his case.
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