Whereabouts of 'released' Hong Kong bookseller unknown, says daughter

Whereabouts of 'released' Hong Kong bookseller unknown, says daughter

Gui Minahi, the Hong Kong bookseller and publisher detained in China since October 2015, has been released from prison in China, the Swedish embassy has been informed. However, according to his daughter Angela Gui, his whereabouts since his supposed release are unknown and he may have been detained again.

The Swedish Embassy was informed earlier this month by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Swedish citizen Gui Minhai was going to be released on 17th October, marking the end of a two-year detention for an alleged hit-and-run crime he tearfully confessed to on Chinese State television in January 2016 - a confession widely thought to have been made under duress. The ministry also said the bookseller would be "free to travel". 

But a week on, Gui's daughter Angela has issued a statement saying she and her family had yet to hear from him while the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had told the Swedish Embassy they no longer knew where he was.

Angela Gui tweeted: "I want to emphasise that while we have been told #GuiMinhai has been released he is NOT free. #GuiMinhai has been disappeared again, likely by the Chinese government."

She explained further in her statement that the Swedish Consultate General had received a "strange" phone call from someone claiming to be her father, saying he would apply for a Swedish passport in two months but in the meantime was spending time with his "ill" mother. However, Angela Gui's grandmother is healthy and has not heard from him either, she said.

"To my knowledge my grandmother is not ill. My father is not in fact with her. It is still very unclear where he is. I am deeply concerned for his wellbeing," Angela Gui commented. 

"This week I have slept with my phone on my pillow waiting for my father to call. I will continue to do so until he does."

Amid China's crackdown on dissent since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, Gui, now 53, disappeared from his holiday home in Thailand in 2015 before turning up at a detention centre in mainland China. His publishing house and bookshop had specialised in controversial books critical of China's political elite, which saw four other staff members including one British citizen temporarily vanish. According to Chinese officials, all voluntarily went to mainland China. Gui, the publishing house and bookshop's owner, is the last of his colleagues to return.

Angela Gui, who is a masters student living in the UK, previously told The Bookseller she was “disappointed” in the UK's efforts to bring home the illegally detained bookseller and dissident from China. The UK has “a responsibility” to uphold the "one nation, two systems" principle in Hong Kong, she said.