Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai has been jailed for 10 years by a Chinese court for “illegally providing intelligence overseas”.
Gui, who has Swedish citizenship, was one of five booksellers arrested in 2015 for selling books critical of the Chinese government. He was later released but was seized by Chinese agents on a train to Beijing and accused of sharing information with Swedish diplomats.
This week, a court in the eastern city of Ningbo said he had pleaded guilty and would be jailed for 10 years. It also said his Chinese citizenship had been reinstated in 2018, the BBC reported.
Swedish foreign minister Anne Linde tweeted she was seeking more information on the trial. “We have not taken part in the prosecution or had access at the trial,” she said. “The government continues to demand that Gui Minhai be released and that we have access to our citizens to provide consular support.”
Amnesty International’s China researcher Patrick Poon branded the sentence “outrageous”.
He said: “The deplorable verdict and shockingly harsh sentence handed to Gui Minhai on completely unsubstantiated charges demonstrates yet again that the Chinese authorities are not letting the coronavirus crisis distract them from repressing dissidents. Gui appears to have been tried and convicted in secret, denying him any chance of a fair trial.”
Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the International Publishers Assocation’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said: "IPA expresses its steadfast support for Gui Minhai and his family, and calls on Sweden, the EU and the international community to renew their efforts to secure Gui Minhai’s release. Gui Minhai has paid a high price for publishing books and his treatment is meant to scare others into silence. We salute all those brave publishers globally who refuse to be intimidated and continue to exercise their freedom to publish."
Last week, Swedish publishers and writers including Eva Bonnier and David Lagercrantz signed an open letter calling for Gui Minhai's release.
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