Missing HK bookseller meets his wife in China

A protester displaying a missing person notice for Mr Lee Bo, the latest of five Hong Kong booksellers from the Mighty Current publishing house to have gone missing. Hong Kong's Sing Tao newspaper published a photo yesterday of Mr Lee and his wife, a
A protester displaying a missing person notice for Mr Lee Bo, the latest of five Hong Kong booksellers from the Mighty Current publishing house to have gone missing. Hong Kong's Sing Tao newspaper published a photo yesterday of Mr Lee and his wife, as well as a letter said to have been written by him, in which he said he is "free and safe".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Lee Bo said to be 'healthy and in good spirits' and assisting an investigation as a witness

HONG KONG • A Hong Kong bookseller, whose disappearance from the city raised fears that he was abducted by Chinese officials, has met his wife on the mainland and is reportedly "in good spirits", Hong Kong police said yesterday.

Mr Lee Bo, 65, was the fifth employee of Hong Kong publishing house Mighty Current, known for producing salacious titles critical of Chinese leaders, to have gone missing in recent months.

Mr Lee, a British citizen, disappeared on Dec 30 in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, where mainland Chinese law enforcers are officially barred from operating.

Three others went missing in mainland China while Mr Gui Minhai, a Swedish national, disappeared in Thailand.

Hong Kong police said yesterday that Mr Lee had met his wife Sophie Choi at an unspecified location in China the previous day.

"The police have received notification from Lee Bo's wife that she met with Lee Bo at a guesthouse in mainland China in the afternoon of Jan 23," a statement said.

"Mrs Lee said Lee Bo is healthy and in good spirits. He is assisting an investigation as a witness," the statement said without elaborating.

There was no immigration record of Mr Lee having left Hong Kong last month.

Activists, local media and even pro-Beijing politicians in the city have expressed concern about the case.

They say any abduction would be a serious breach of the "one country, two systems" agreement, under which Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 but was allowed to retain freedoms not available on the mainland.

Local media have published numerous letters purportedly written by Mr Lee - in which he said he entered the mainland voluntarily - after his wife retracted her report to the police listing her husband as missing.

But human rights activists said the developments smacked of "intimidation" tactics by China.

Hong Kong's Sing Tao newspaper published a photo yesterday of Mr Lee and his wife, as well as a letter said to have been written by him, in which he said he is "free and safe".

Last week, a weeping Mr Gui appeared on Chinese state television, saying he was in China to "take legal responsibilities" for killing a college student in a car accident there 11 years ago.

His confession was rejected by activists, who described it as a "smokescreen".

Hong Kong is supposed to retain its self-governing and semi-autonomous system until 2047. But many fear Beijing is quietly imposing its authoritarian stamp on the city.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2016, with the headline 'Missing HK bookseller meets his wife in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe