China

Hong Kong booksellers: One of five missing men returns home

A "Closed" sign and support messages hang on the door of the Causeway Bay Books store in Hong Kong, China, 05 February 2016. Image copyright EPA
Image caption People left messages of support on the "closed" sign of the Causeway Bay Books store following the disappearance of the booksellers

One of five missing Hong Kong booksellers thought to have been detained by Chinese authorities has returned home, Hong Kong police say.

Lui Bo and four others associated with publisher Mighty Current, which produced books critical of Chinese leaders, went missing last year.

Mr Lui, the general manager of Mighty Current, disappeared on 15 October while in Shenzhen in southern China.

All five men later surfaced in custody of Chinese police.

The men appeared on Chinese television on Sunday, with four of them, including Lui Bo, saying they had been detained for "illegal book trading".

Public confessions have long been a part of China's criminal law although experts say many confessions are forced.

Hong Kong police said in a statement that they met Lui Bo on Friday.

Mr Lui told Hong Kong police he did not need any assistance from them or the Hong Kong government, and asked police to cancel the missing persons case related to him, they said.

"He refused to disclose other details," the statement added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thousands protested in Hong Kong over the disappearance of the booksellers

Pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho told AFP he believed Mr Lui "must be very scared", and that his request that police drop his case was "just to show the mainland authorities that he will keep quiet".

Hong Kong's missing booksellers and 'banned' Xi Jinping book

Causeway Bay Books, the Hong Kong shop owned by Mighty Current, closed following the disappearances.

The case has sparked accusations of China violating Hong Kong's judicial independence.

Two of the men, Gui Minhai and Lee Bo, were outside mainland China when they disappeared. Mr Gui was in Thailand and Mr Lee in Hong Kong - where Chinese police do not have jurisdiction.

Mr Lui's two other colleagues, Cheung Chi Ping and Lam Wing Kee, are also expected to be released on bail in coming days.

Image copyright Phoenix TV
Image caption Bookseller Lee Bo was seen on Chinese TV saying he would renounce his British citizenship

Mr Lui's release comes just a day before the opening of China's annual parliamentary session, the National People's Congress, in Beijing.

The UK has previously expressed concern about the disappearances. It said last month that Mr Lee, who has a British passport, was probably "involuntarily removed" to China in what would have been a "serious breach" of the Hong Kong handover treaty.

However, China's foreign ministry has said its officials would not behave illegally, and urged other countries not to meddle in its affairs.

Mr Lee was shown on Chinese state TV on Monday, denying he had been abducted by Chinese officials, and saying he would renounce his British citizenship.

However, his supporters believe the interview was done under duress.


Mighty Current publishing house disappearances

1. Lui Bo, general manager, goes missing in Shenzhen, 15 October

2. Cheung Jiping, business manager, 32, goes missing in Dongguan, 15 October

3. Gui Minhai, co-owner, 51, goes missing in Thailand, 17 October

4. Lam Wingkei, manager, 60, last seen in Hong Kong, 23 October

5. Lee Bo, shareholder, 65, goes missing in Hong Kong, 30 December

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