Dissident bookseller freed by China makes contact with family

Gui Minhai with his daughter Angela Gui as a child. The Hong Kong-based publisher had been detained at an undisclosed location in China ever since he disappeared in 2015 while on holiday in Thailand.
Gui Minhai with his daughter Angela Gui as a child. The Hong Kong-based publisher had been detained at an undisclosed location in China ever since he disappeared in 2015 while on holiday in Thailand.PHOTO: AFP/ANGELA GUI

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - The dissident publisher Gui Minhai has spoken with his family after being released from detention by China, his wife said on Friday (Oct 27), but his freedom of movement remains unclear.

Fears were raised for the 53-year-old Swedish citizen when he failed to contact family members after Swedish authorities confirmed his release on Tuesday.

His wife Angela told AFP on Friday: "A call did take place, however there are still many things that need to be clarified and I don't think we can jump to conclusions just yet."

The Hong Kong-based publisher, whose company was known for salacious titles about the lives of China's political elite, disappeared in 2015 while on holiday in Thailand. He had been detained at an undisclosed location in China ever since.

The dissident poet Bei Ling said on Twitter, translated from Chinese: "Husband and wife have reunited in Ningbo and he's also seen his mother and elder sisters.

"A few days ago, he personally called the Swedish consulate in Shanghai, in Swedish, and will apply for a new passport soon."

 
 

However, until Mr Minhai can leave for Europe, he remains in a house arranged by police, Mr Ling said without revealing his sources.

"I cannot say if he has the freedom to leave, I wish for his full freedom!"

Mr Minhai was one of five booksellers from the same firm to go missing and reappear in custody on the mainland.

In February 2016, Mr Minhai appeared on Chinese television, weeping as he confessed to involvement in a fatal car accident years before.

In another interview the same year, he also admitted trying to smuggle illegal books into China.

The Chinese foreign ministry told AFP on Tuesday that Mr Minhai had served his jail sentence over "a traffic accident" and was released on Oct 17.