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China sentences Swedish publisher to 10 years jail

February 25, 2020

The Chinese court has also withdrawn the Swedish book publisher's political rights for five years. The German government and the EU have both condemned his arrest and urged Chinese authorities to release him.

Gui Minhai on posters at a protest
Image: Reuters/B. Yip

A Chinese court sentenced Swedish citizen Gui Minhai to 10 years in jail for illegally providing intelligence abroad, according to a statement by the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court published on Tuesday.

Gui was one of five booksellers from Hong Kong who were detained for selling books critical of China's political leadership. He was arrested in early 2018 by Chinese authorities while traveling with Swedish diplomats in mainland China.

The court also sentenced Gui to five years of "deprivation of political rights," meaning he cannot lead state-owned enterprises or hold positions in state organs.

Gui will not appeal his sentence, the court said.

A second time in jail

Gui has already spent two years in a Chinese prison after disappearing in 2015 while on holiday in Thailand. He later reappeared in China where he admitted to involvement in a fatal traffic accident and smuggling illegal books.

His family and supporters claim his imprisonment is part of a campaign of repression organized by the Chinese government. 

Gui Minhai
Gui Minhai was one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missingImage: PEN International

Sweden's diplomatic row with China

Sweden has repeatedly called for the release of Gui. He was award the prestigious prize from free speech organization PEN International in 2019, a move China outright condemned.

The European Union and the German government have also spoken out against his detainment.

A video released by China three weeks after Gui's disappearance showed him confessing wrongdoing and blaming Sweden for "sensationalizing" his case and "instigating" law-breaking behavior.

Gui's friend, dissident poet Bei Ling, said that the confession was likely made under coercion.

The court said in the Tuesday statement that Gui had his Chinese citizenship re-instated in 2018. But it is not clear if he had given up his Swedish nationality. China does not recognize dual citizenship and foreigners are required to renounce their foreign nationality once they gain Chinese citizenship.

kmm/ls (AFP, Reuters)

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