Daughter of detained Hong Kong bookseller appeals for US help

This file photo taken on Jan 3, 2016 shows a protestor holding up a missing person notice for Lee Bo, 65, the latest of five Hong Kong booksellers from the same Mighty Current publishing house to go missing, as they walk towards China's Liaison Offic
This file photo taken on Jan 3, 2016 shows a protestor holding up a missing person notice for Lee Bo, 65, the latest of five Hong Kong booksellers from the same Mighty Current publishing house to go missing, as they walk towards China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The daughter of a Hong Kong-based bookseller detained in China took her campaign for his release to Washington on Tuesday (May 24), appealing for help in pressing China for information as to his status and to release him.

Angela Gui told a hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that her father, Gui Minhai, a naturalised Swedish citizen, had been detained for eight months without trial and was being denied consular access or legal representation.

"I still haven't been told where he is, how he is being treated, or what his legal status is - which is especially shocking in light of the fact that my father holds Swedish, and only Swedish, citizenship," she said.

The commission was created by Congress in 2000 to monitor human rights in China.

Gui Minhai disappeared in Thailand in October and subsequently appeared in a tearful confession broadcast on Chinese state television in January in which he said he had voluntarily turned himself in to mainland authorities and had been detained for "illegal book trading."

Angela Gui, who was born and raised in Sweden and is now studying in Britain, said the confession was "clearly staged"and that her father was in "unofficial and illegal detention."

She appealed for support in working with Sweden and other governments to secure his release, or if he was suspected of a real crime, for details of his detention and proof that his case was being handled in accordance with legal procedures.

"I also want to ask the United States to take every opportunity to ask China for information on my father's status, as well as urge that he be freed immediately," she said.

"The US, Sweden, and other countries concerned about these developments need to work to make sure that Chinese authorities are not allowed to carry out illegal operations on foreign soil."

The disappearance of Gui Minhai and four associates who sold books critical of Chinese leaders sparked fears that Chinese authorities were overriding the "one country, two systems"formula protecting Hong Kong's freedoms since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

In February the United States called on China to clarify the status of the booksellers.

Many in Hong Kong and some foreign diplomats suspect they were illegally abducted by mainland agents. China has denied any wrongdoing.