Sweden’s foreign ministry has recalled its ambassador to China following claims she set up a secret meeting between missing bookseller Gui Minhai’s daughter and Chinese businessmen.
Gui was one of five booksellers arrested in 2015 for selling books critical of the Chinese government. He was later released but vanished again after Chinese agents seized him on a train to Beijing, accusing him of sharing information with Swedish diplomats. His daughter Angela Gui, a Cambridge University student, has been campaigning for her father’s release.
In a blog post she claimed to have been contacted by Sweden’s ambassador to China, Anna Lindstedt, who asked her to travel to Stockholm on 24th January to discuss a “new approach” to her father’s case.
She wrote: “She didn't explain very much, but said that there were some businessmen she thought could help, and that they wanted to meet me in Stockholm. She'd join too, and these were people she trusted, she reassured me.”
Gui said the hotel meeting lasted for almost two days, during which she was kept under constant observation, had her movements restricted and was warned she would never see her father again if she turned down their terms.
She claimed one businessman offered her a Chinese visa and said her father could be released if she remained silent. Gui explained: “The man who offered me the visa told me that they had ‘connections within the Chinese Communist Party’. He said the Chinese ambassador was ‘on the phone to Beijing’, and that it was possible my father might be released.
“There would, however, need to be a trial first in which my father might be sentenced to ‘a few years’ before he’d be allowed to come back home. In order for this to happen, I was told I needed to be quiet.”
She claimed Lindstedt had consented to the proposal, suggesting it would help relations between Sweden and China.
Gui said she only managed to extricate herself from the encounter by pretending to agree. She concluded the post: “I’m not going to be quiet in exchange for a visa and an arbitrary promise that my father ‘might’ be released. Threats, verbal abuse, bribes, or flattery won’t change that. Thanks for the offer, though.”
Gui wrote she had contacted the Swedish ministry of foreign affairs afterwards and was told they were unaware of the meeting and Lindstedt being in the country. Lindstedt has now been recalled while an investigation takes place.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm said it was not aware of the claims until the end of January, after the meetings had taken place.
He said: “Due to information concerning incorrect action in connection with these events, an internal investigation has been initiated and a new acting head of mission has been assigned to the embassy – pending conclusion of the investigation.
“The Swedish Government’s engagement for Gui Minhai is widely known, vigorously conducted and aims to find a solution where Gui Minhai regains his freedom and is reunited with his family.”
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