One missing bookseller returns to HK

A protester in Hong Kong on Jan 3 holding up a missing person notice for bookseller Lee Bo. On Monday, he appeared on TV to say he had not been abducted but had entered China illegally.
A protester in Hong Kong on Jan 3 holding up a missing person notice for bookseller Lee Bo. On Monday, he appeared on TV to say he had not been abducted but had entered China illegally. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Freed on bail from China, Lui Por asks police to close missing persons case

HONG KONG • One of five "missing" Hong Kong booksellers who was detained on the mainland returned to the city yesterday and met police, the government said, in a case that has provoked fears of increasing Chinese interference in the semi-autonomous region.

Lui Por, who has been missing since last October, was one of three booksellers who Hong Kong police said earlier this week would be released on bail.

"Police met with Lui Por, who returned to Hong Kong from the mainland, this morning," a brief government statement released yesterday said.

"Lui requested to have his missing persons case closed and expressed that there was no need for assistance from the Hong Kong government or police," it said, adding that he refused to provide any more information.

Hong Kong police had said that Mr Lui and his counterparts Cheung Chi Ping and Lam Wing Kee would all be released on bail.

The five booksellers from Hong Kong's Mighty Current publishing house, known for its salacious titles critical of Beijing, went missing last year, only to turn up in mainland China.

One who apparently disappeared from Hong Kong, Mr Lee Bo, appeared on television on Monday and insisted that he had not been abducted by the mainland authorities.

In the Phoenix TV interview, Mr Lee said he had "resorted to illegal immigration" to get to the mainland because he did not want to draw attention to his visit.

The other four booksellers, who are under criminal investigation on the mainland, appeared on Phoenix TV on Sunday.

During their sombre, at times tearful, interviews, the booksellers admitted to smuggling illicit books into China.

In their first appearance since they were detained, Mr Cheung, Mr Lui and Mr Lam blamed the company's illegal book trade on their colleague Gui Minhai in their interviews.

Mr Gui, a Swedish citizen, confessed he had "explored ways to circumvent official inspections in China", in his television interview on Sunday.

The case has heightened fears of increasing mainland Chinese interference in Hong Kong and sparked international condemnation.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2016, with the headline 'One missing bookseller returns to HK'. Print Edition | Subscribe