China frees jailed Swedish dissident book publisher Gui Minhai: Sweden

STOCKHOLM (AFP, REUTERS) - Sweden on Tuesday (Oct 24) said China has released Swedish dissident book publisher Gui Minhai, who wrote political gossip books about Chinese leaders, two years after he was kidnapped while on holiday in Thailand.

"We have received information from the Chinese authorities that he has been released," Swedish foreign ministry spokesman Sofia Karlberg told AFP, without specifying when Gui had been freed.

However, Gui's family questioned if he really was free. His daughter said in a statement that he was to be released on Oct 17 but had made no contact with her or any other relative. China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gui, 53, disappeared from the Thai resort of Pattaya in October 2015. He re-emerged in a televised confession in January 2016 that he had voluntarily turned himself in to mainland authorities over a fatal 2004 traffic accident.

In a second appearance on Beijing-backed Phoenix TV in March 2016, he said he had avoided rules on importing books into China, partly by changing their covers and putting them in dark nylon bags to evade X-rays.

Four other men in Hong Kong were also detained by Chinese agents for being allegedly involved in the production and sale of gossipy political titles banned in mainland China but freely available in Hong Kong, deepening Western governments' concerns about Beijing's broader disregard for international legal agreements and norms in issues such as the South China Sea and Taiwan.

The four others have returned to Hong Kong.

Earlier this year, Gui Minhai won a prize for free speech and press freedom awarded by Swedish media organisation Publicistklubben.

This story is developing.

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