A Hong Kong bookseller who mysteriously disappeared, suspected of being kidnapped by Chinese forces, has turned himself in to authorities.The news is a bizarre twist in the recent disappearance of five local publishers.
China's state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday that Gui Minhai, a 56-year-old Swedish national, claimed responsibility for accidentally running over a 20-year-old college student in a drink driving incident in 2004.
"I thought if I left China…the pressure would go away, but it became worse," Gui was reported as saying. "I thought if I should go back, I will take any punishment," he added. Gui went missing in Thailand late last year, with his friends suspecting he had been abducted by Chinese agents from his house in Pattaya.
Gui returned to China in October last year, CCTV said. "Coming back to China was my own decision… I also do not want any other person and authority, including the Swedish authorities, to become involved," CCTV reported Gui as saying. Gui also insisted he felt Chinese despite having Swedish nationality.
Gui is the first publisher out offive other booksellers
to issue a public statement after disappearing in recent years. All five had connections to the Causeway Bay bookstore (pictured above) and the publisher Mighty Current, which specializes in publishing books containing unconfirmed rumors about high-ranking Chinese officials.
Another bookseller, Lee Bo, was reported missing by his wife at the end of last year. Lee, a British citizen, issued a letter this year, saying he went to China to assist in an investigation. His wife later withdrew her report.
Three other booksellers are still unaccounted for.The disappearances
have stoked fears that Hong Kong is no longer safe for those critical of the regime in Beijing. China has also stepped up efforts to repatriate overseas fugitives, usually Communist Party officials wanted on corruption charges. However, its bold overseas operations have alarmed the international community.
mg/jlw (AFP, dpa)