Sweden, EU tell China to free dissident publisher

Sweden and EU’s ambassador to China have asked Beijing to immediately release Swedish citizen and Hong Kong-based publisher Gui Minhai who was snatched for the second time by its police from a train on Saturday.

Gui, accompanied by two Swedish diplomats from Shanghai consulate, was heading to the Swedish embassy in Beijing to undergo medical examination when he was grabbed and taken away by 10 policemen in plain clothes.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom (pictured foreground) said Stockholm expects Gui to be released immediately and be given the opportunity to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical personnel.

Gui is showing symptoms of the neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was arrested by Chinese authorities in front of two diplomats who were assisting a Swedish citizen in need of medical care. The two have the right to provide him with consular support. They raised alarm over Gui’s detention as the police acted without any explanation, she said.

Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, EU’s ambassador to China, said Gui should be immediately freed and allowed to reunite with his family adding that Gui is a Swedish citizen and a citizen of the  EU.

Gui’s first disappearance was in early 2016 when he was seized by Chinese security agents during his trip to Thailand.

He ran Mighty Current Media Co which marketed gossipy titles about the lives of top Chinese politicians through Causeway Bay Bookshop in Hong Kong. Those books were sold like cakes and many of the buyers were from the mainland who visited Hong Kong.

He soon appeared ‘in tears’ on Chinese state television CCTV and ‘confessed’ his role in a hit-and-run in Ningbo in December 2003 which, according to the state-run channel and Xinhua news agency, resulted in the death of a female college student.

In another TV appearance, Gui ‘confessed’ he tried to smuggle illegal books into China.

He was detained in an undisclosed destination until his release in October last year. Since then, the 53-year-old has been placed under house arrest in the city of Ningbo near Shanghai.

Gui’s latest arrest in a train was condemned by rights groups. Amnesty International said Gui should be released and allowed to seek medical treatment.

The way Gui was snatched by police in front of two diplomats who were trying to help him get medical aid should be a wake-up call to the international community, Amnesty’s China researcher William Nee said on Tuesday.

Literary society and activist group PEN Hong Kong expressed grave concern over Gui’s latest disappearance.

China faced worldwide criticism after veteran rights activist and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo died from liver cancer while on medical parole on the mainland in December last year. Beijing had ignored rights groups’ requests to allow him seek medical treatment abroad.